Foundation for the future

  • Published: Tuesday, July 9, 2019

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Madelyn Derks plans to use the public speaking and communications skills she first honed in 4-H to advocate for farmers everywhere. Derks is the Missouri 4-H Foundation’s summer intern, helping with alumni outreach, communications and event planning.

Derks is an MU sophomore majoring in agribusiness management with a minor in science and agricultural communications.

A sixth-generation farmer, she grew up on a commercial Angus and cow-calf operation in Gentry County that her grandfather started from a small herd more than 50 years ago. Among her fondest early childhood memories was spending days out with her father checking on the cattle.

Derks joined 4-H when she was 8. She showed Boer goats. Her mother, a teacher and 4-H club leader, encouraged her to pursue public speaking too. That seed, coupled with FFA leadership experiences, nurtured Derks’ passion for agriculture communications and advocacy.

“I see how hard my family works to run a successful farm and all of the challenges,” Derks says. “I want to make it my mission and goal to stand up for farmers like them everywhere — to be their voice and representative. Whether that’s in Washington, D.C., or in Jefferson City or somewhere in rural America, I want to use my public speaking and communications skills to make a difference.”

Derks is a member of Missouri’s Collegiate Farm Bureau and of Agriculture Communicators and Leaders of Tomorrow. She is also interning this summer at the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association, learning about the impact of grassroots advocacy on policy and law.

A 2018 graduate of King City R-1 High School, Derks is the daughter of Chris and Cas Derks and older sister to Samuel and Gabriel Derks.

Her advice for future interns?

“If there’s something you’re passionate about and you want to learn about, make that your goal, your mission. Don’t be afraid to look for opportunities and go after them,” she says.

Photos available for this release:
Madelyn Derks grew up on a cattle farm near King City, Mo. Photo by Laura Shifflett.
Madelyn Derks is the Missouri 4-H Foundation’s 2019 summer intern. Photo by Cas Derks.

Writer: Katherine Foran

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