As just a freshman, Cleburne High School’s Madi McClure is already receiving high honors.
McClure recently was awarded third place honors in Greenhand Creed Speaking at the Texas FFA State Leadership Development Event Finals at Sam Houston State University.
The 15-year-old is not the first in her family to participate in the competition. She actually represents the third generation. Her grandfather, Barney, and father, Mark, both served as agriculture science teachers at Cleburne High School. Mark McClure is now the director of Career and Technical Education at CHS.
“My dad and grandpa always talked to me about participating in Creed Speaking when I got to high school,” Madi said. “Before the new school year started, I began to really think about it and learning about the creed and all it meant. I guess I fell in love with the event then — but I sure didn’t think I would wind up where I did.”
Though she wasn’t given much of a choice about competing, Madi said she loved hearing them talk about their experiences.
Centered on the creed of the Future Farmers of America organization, the event is designed to build on the speaking abilities of participants, while giving first-year members an understanding of the history of FFA and agriculture.
Competitors in Greenhand Creed Speaking must recite the five-paragraph belief statement from memory before judges, then answer up to three questions directly relating to the creed. Contestants are scored on their delivery and overall performance.
After competing in a series of invitationals, Madi placed first at the Chisholm Trail LDE competition, advancing to the Area 8 contest, where she finished second and qualified for state.
Wacey Newman, Madi’s ag science teacher, also serves as the FFA advisor over the event. She credits Madi’s work over the summer, coupled with hard work, as key factors in her achievement as a state competitor as a freshman.
“Madi experienced success early on in placing at the top at three invitationals leading up to the district contest,” Newman said.
Madi placed first in Creed Speaking at the invitational hosted at Tarleton State University, which is the largest practice meet in the state, and again at the Waxahachie Invitational, going up against 23 other contestants.
“She is an extremely hard worker,” Newman said. “She took what she learned in the summer and ran with it. She never missed a practice and came to my class during her lunch periods to work on her presentation.”
Madi points to the challenge of speaking before Newman’s upper-level classes as a great preparation.
“The hardest part of all this was getting over being nervous,” she said. “Speaking to Mrs. Newman’s classes definitely got my confidence up and gave me some experience. It definitely helped get the jitters out.
“The outcome of this experience is I’ve gone from not wanting to speak in front of a group to someone who is no longer shy.”
Newman is also proud of the growth and achievement she has seen in McClure, as she now prepares for the second semester of FFA competition involving Career Development Events.
“Watching her grow and crack out of her shell, seeing how far she’s come — and seeing Madi recognize that — has been a very cool experience,” Newman said. “From day one she has been a hard worker and deserves everything she’s gotten. Whatever she puts her mind to, she will put the work to as well and earn it.”
Madi is also a member of the freshman volleyball team and is a junior varsity cheerleader. She has also received championship honors at the Johnson County Junior Livestock Show, which she has competed at since third grade as a member of Friendship 4-H. This week she competed as a Cleburne FFA member. She has also been an exhibitor with turkey and broiler projects at the Houston Livestock Show.
When asked about the third place banner from the 2021 LDE State Contest that now hangs in Newman’s classroom, McClure says it’s not so much about her.
“I’m proud to see that banner, but honestly, it’s more about my teachers and the help and encouragement I received from my fellow members of FFA,” Madi said. “It’s about my growth, this experience and what I’ve gotten out of those five paragraphs in the FFA Creed.
“To spend time with my grandpa and dad, saying the creed in front of them, and seeing their pride was very special. My dad finished ninth in the state in Greenhand Creed Speaking, so it’s also been fun to tease him that I beat him.
“For me, this was deeper than a competition and went beyond memorizing words, but instead, living what the FFA Creed says. I am the future of agriculture and as a member of FFA, I am representing what I believe is the value of agriculture.”