When 18-year-old Lilly Robertson isn’t teaching elementary school children about dairy cows and agriculture, she could be either competing in national level FFA competitions (and winning them), spinning the wheels of her dirt bike in a Motocross race, participating in a tractor pull, or even zip lining over a waterfall in Ecuador.
Whatever she is up to, you can bet this little powerhouse of a girl is giving it her 100% best effort. I am super excited to be able to introduce you to her. She is one energetic, inspirational young lady. Read her interview below to find out about the many things that make Lilly Robertson, well … exceptional!
Q: How did you first develop an interest in agricultural sciences, FFA, and 4H?
A: Agriculture has always been my passion because I grew up on a family farm. Learning as much about agriculture as I could when I was a child led me to become involved in agricultural youth organizations.
It has helped me not only to gain more knowledge and experience, but also to share my love and passion with others, and to create invaluable, nationwide connections in the industry.
Both of my parents grew up in 4H and FFA. They have always encouraged me to pursue whatever my passions are, and these organizations provide the best way to do so.
Agriculture is the backbone of our nation and our world. The success of agriculture will define our future, and to be a part of that is beyond thrilling to me. I am blessed to have been taught about agriculture from childhood, and consider myself lucky to have learned about life, death, hard work, economics, value, and survival.
Q: What are some experiences you’ve had in speaking and competing in FFA that have been most meaningful to you?
A: Through FFA I’ve had the opportunity to do many things at the local, state, and national level. One of the things I gained the most from is the Agriscience Fair.
This competition requires students to develop a research project, write a scientific research paper, and present the information to judges, agriculture teachers and students from across the nation.
In addition, I’ve competed in Dairy Impromptu Speaking, Job Interview, Agronomy, and Parliamentary Procedures contests.
Through these, I’ve developed skills that will help me later in my career, and in life. I’ve gained confidence in my abilities to present myself to any group, or handle any challenge I come upon.
Q: What facets of 4H and FFA do you enjoy the most?
A: Despite all the amazing contests and travel opportunities, the most enjoyable part is the people I’ve met. Through FFA, I’ve made some of my best friends.
I have a group of girls I am attending college with from FFA that are so supportive and amazing to be around. I have made many friends through the 4H exchange trip. I still love to keep up with 4H friends as far as Wyoming and Kansas on social media.
Q: Tell us about the awards you have won in FFA and 4H.
A: I’ve won a variety of awards, most notably, 2nd, 3rd and 7th place in the nation for my FFA Agriscience Fair projects. I’ve also won 11th place and team high individual in the nation in Agronomy. I was the Chairman for a National Invitational Jr. Parliamentary Procedures team, and I’ve competed in Dairy Impromptu speaking on the state level twice. I won 2nd place in the state FFA Job Interview, and 2nd place in the district 4H Job Interview.
This year I will be competing in Extemporaneous Speaking at the state level in FFA. Also, I’ve competed in Livestock Judging, Creed Speaking, Record-keeping, Poultry Impromptu, and 4H Speaking.
Also, I’ve been involved with Farm Bureau almost all my life. Through Farm Bureau, I’ve had the opportunity to compete in the Farm Bureau Outstanding Youth Contest. In winning that on the state level, I traveled to Washington D.C. and explored our nation’s capital on the congressional tour.
Q: Tell us about your recent mission trip to Ecuador. What made the biggest impression on you, and will you go back?
A: The biggest impact was simply the love, joy, and faith that I learned from the people there. Although many live below what we would consider the poverty level, they are more joyful, giving, and compassionate than any American I’ve met. Their love for Christ and each other is nothing less than infectious.
I loved seeing the amazing sights, including volcanoes and the rainforest, but by far my favorite part was building relationships and ministering to children.
I will be going back as often as possible! I am planning my next trip in December of this year. Ecuador is beautiful. The agriculture there intrigues me so much, and has even shaped my choice of college major. I could see myself spending extended periods of time there.
Also, I got to go to the closest place on earth to the sun (and have a snowball fight there), and zip line over a waterfall!
Q: What are some of your other passions and interests?
A: I always say my two greatest loves in life are kids and cows. I’m always looking for ways to combine the two. To do that, I participate in programs that allow me to teach children about agriculture. I also serve as a cross-age tutor in the 3rd grade at the local elementary school every day.
With AgVentures, which teaches 4th graders about agriculture, my job is talking about dairy cows, and letting the kids milk a fiberglass imitation. I also do Animal Fair, where I bring a live cow for 2nd graders to see, and Farm Bureau Ag Literacy Day, where we read a book about agriculture and then do an activity. This year we planted peas and I took them to the school greenhouse where the kids will water and care for them.
I love the dairy industry, and I stay involved by working on my family’s dairy farm and on issues facing the industry. I learn as much as possible by attending workshops and taking trips to the World Dairy Expo.
My largest passion is combining those things with ministry. I teach a group of 3rd graders on Wednesday night at church. Building relationships and showing love and compassion to these kids is something I look forward to every single week.
Throughout high school, I’ve served in organizations such as Nashville Bridge Ministry, Kentucky Changers, Food for America, Adopt-a-Highway, Feed the Children, Medco Nursing Home, Relay for Life, and Crossings Camp. I have also served and taught inner-city children in Memphis, TN.
Service, to me, is the mark of a true leader. Servant leadership is something I believe very strongly in. One of my favorite quotes is “The heart of a leader is manifested through service to others” – Artika Tyner.
Other involvements and pastimes include Academic Team captain, reading, tractor pulling, and motorcycle riding. I have a dirt bike, and I enjoy motocross racing. My dad and I plan to tour California this summer on our street motorcycles.
Q: What problems exist for teens now that did not exist for your parents when they were teens?
A: Technology is probably the most obvious. Being in a global social and economic environment, we are exposed to many new challenges and temptations. Words that are mean, images that are demeaning, all can be sent with the click of a button from the safety of being behind a screen. Teens don’t realize the lasting impact of what they put on the web.
Beyond that, expectations have changed. Now, more than ever, teens are pushed into college readiness, and making important life decisions prematurely. Teens are asked to decide what they want to do with their lives in 8th grade as they sign up for freshman classes, and aren’t allowed to explore opportunities by taking different classes.
Also, there is a temptation to define teens by their test scores, and more than once over the course of high school, I have felt worth nothing more than my ACT score. These things don’t seem to have been as important in my parents’ generation.
In this number driven, test-defined culture we have created for our teens, we are limiting their potential and killing their desire to learn.
Q: What opportunities do you think teens should take more advantage of?
A: Being involved in organizations that will help them develop their interests and passions. The best way to enjoy your high school experience is by staying involved and growing yourself.
Also, challenge expectations. I don’t want to say be rebellious because that’s not the right message, but don’t be afraid to challenge injustice or the status quo in order to improve something.
I’ve been told I was wasting my potential by wanting to live simply and do missions overseas, yet that has been one of the most fulfilling things I’ve ever done. I encourage every teen to simply set a precedent. We have so much more power and influence than we realize, more than the world wants us to believe.
We have so much more power and influence than we realize, more than the world wants us to believe.
I wholeheartedly embrace what Paul says in 1 Timothy 4:12 (NIV) – “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”
Q: What time management skills do you use to stay on track with your grades and activities?
A: Prioritizing is definitely most important. It’s hard for sure! Sometimes I am over committed and that causes issues. I just try to make the most of every moment in the day.
During school, I multitask and try to accomplish as much as I can. It’s difficult because I try to work on our farm whenever possible. I work in the dairy, bail hay, and work in the fields. I love it, but with all the extra-curricular activities I do, I don’t get to work on the farm nearly as much as I would like.
Part of the problem with being so involved and passionate about so much is having to decide what to do and what to give up. It is hard to make those decisions, but I have become much better at selecting and doing what I really love.
Q: What are your plans for college and the future?
A: I’ve been awarded the Singletary Scholarship from the University of Kentucky, and will be attending this fall. I’m double majoring in Agricultural Community & Leadership Development and International Studies, and minoring in Animal Science.
I plan to work at the dairy farm, and to be involved with Dairy Club and Sigma Alpha, which is the agriculture professional sorority. I also plan to participate in Baptist Campus Ministry, Honors College, collegiate FFA, and collegiate Farm Bureau. I can’t wait! The prospect of being involved in campus life and learning new things excites me beyond words.
I don’t know about you, but I was tired after just reading about all the amazing things Lilly has done. I owe her a huge thanks for providing me with all the wonderful information in her interview. She is a shining example of an exceptional teen, and I know her family is justifiably proud of her.
I loved the part of her interview when she encouraged teens to set a precedent. That is good advice for anyone to follow. Whether you are a teen or an adult, don’t be afraid to follow Lilly’s example to step out of your comfort zone, reach for new heights, and make the magic happen!
Do you have an exceptional teen?
If you have or know of a teen who is exceptional – whether it be in school with academics, music talent, sports, heroic deeds, community service, or anything else that would make them stand out – I want to hear about it!
Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to tell me a little bit about your situation. Give a quick sentence or two about why your teen is exceptional. I will be in touch with you with an emailed list of interview questions your teen can answer and send back to me. The world needs to know there are wonderful kids out there doing outstanding, praiseworthy activities. I would love to feature your exceptional teen.