Not many high school students can say they have found their passion but it appears Colten Leech, a high school junior and member of the East Newton FFA Chapter, has found his in agriculture.
“I’ve been showing Brangus for, well, forever,” Leech said. “I never have showed anything else.”
Leech has shown at the Ozark Empire Fair, Missouri State Fair, Oklahoma State Fair, and the National Junior Brangus Show. In 2018, he exhibited the Grand Champion Brangus bull in the junior and open shows at OEF and he had the 2017 OEF Grand Champion Brangus heifer in the junior show in addition to other successes.
The high school student is also active in rodeo and plays baseball and football.
“When I was little, I started off riding sheep,” Leech said, explaining his parents did not want him to ride calves but he later got back into it intensively in 2016.
“When I was in eighth grade, I won the National Junior High School Finals Rodeo in chute dogging,” he said. Since being named 2016 World Champion, he’s qualified every year for the National High School Finals Rodeo in steer wrestling.
He also serves as a director for the International Junior Brangus Breeders Association and as chairman of the “Source of Champions” sale. He said he originally was interested in becoming part of the board after being encouraged by his dad and looking up to directors before him.
“I remember all the other junior board members,” Leech said. “They were always just helpful.
“I wanted that opportunity to travel the country and help out and put these shows on and be a part of something of that size,” he added.
Leech hopes to continue that encouragement to other youth in the show industry and offered tips to others hoping to be successful in the show ring.
“I would suggest talking to some of the top ranches and top guys in the business,” Leech said. “If you’re serious about it and you’re going to be successful, that’s what you’re going to have to do. You’re going to have to hang around winners to be a winner.
“Other than that, have fun,” he continued. “Be a sponge and soak in as much information as you can. I’ve been in it a lot of years and I’m not even close to knowing everything. You’re always going to have to keep your mind open and learn.”
Work ethic is another integral ingredient to the recipe for success.
“In FFA, being on the board, and in rodeo, I’ve learned hard work,” he said. “You have to be dedicated to what you’re doing — if you’re taking it seriously — to go anywhere in life. You can’t be slacking and expect anything to come to you easy.”
One of his FFA advisers attributed his success to his passion and desire for agriculture and learning.
“You can tell he has a lot more life for agriculture and wants to be involved,” said Brian Nelson, East Newton FFA adviser. “I think his love is with agriculture.
“He’s one of those kids who’s pretty coachable,” Nelson continued. “He’s one that likes to be involved in other activities, and he’s also one that is a quick learner.”
“He’s one who reminds teachers why they want to teach,” Nelson said. “He’s one of those you can plant the seed in, and he just keeps continually getting better and better.”
His growth during his time in FFA is apparent, he added.
FFA has provided opportunities for Leech to meet new people and see new things and encouraged him to continue working toward his own achievements.
“Seeing people be recognized for their achievements on the national level inspired me,” Leech said.
Looking forward, Leech has his sights set on college and a continued involvement in agriculture.
“I really want to go to NEO first and start a degree in ag sales and communications and see where that takes me from there,” Leech said.