Parker County Today March 2018 - Page 34

difference in animals’ lives in the community, she’s changed one particular dog’s life significantly and emphatically. “Not long after she became a volunteer at the shelter, she came home worried about a young pit bull named Jackson. He hadn’t been adopted, was heartworm-positive, and would soon be ‘put to sleep’ if no one claimed him. She continu- ously checked to see if he had been adopted on their Facebook page and when he came up as ‘urgent’ she began to beg. Of course, now, one of our three dogs from the shelter is Jackson. He’s been a wonderful addi- tion to our family,” her mother said.  Alyssa Hughes Helpful, Hardworking, Goal- Oriented and Determined   32 Alyssa Hughes, 19, is a shining example of the positive impact that participating in FFA and 4-H has on young people. “It taught me a lot,” Hughes said. “The most important thing I got from my participation in FFA is that it helped me to establish a very valu- able work ethic.” Bounding out of bed each morn- ing, waking long before sunrise to take care of the animals is something that is foreign to the majority of American girls of our time. Participation in local FFA meet- ings and taking the lead in the orga- nization’s programs was a key factor in transforming Hughes from the introverted and shy child she once was to the confident young woman she is today. Beginning as a member of the Spring Creek 4-H Club, Hughes quickly overcame her shyness and eventually helped take the organiza- tion’s reins as club vice-president. FFA is famous for helping build generations of strong men and women by helping them learn responsibility as they pursue activities they love. In the case of Hughes, she loved taking care of and showing cattle. Hughes prepared and showed steers at stock shows as a protégé of famed cattle aficionado Jim Martin. “Alyssa is an ultra-sweet young girl, very smart and attentive,” Martin said. “I mentored her through FFA. She has an extraordinary work ethic and she’s very eager to learn. Alyssa has a very bright future ahead of her.” Eventually, she became vice-presi- dent of Spring Creek 4-H Club. “As vice-president, I helped orga- nize a lot of the Spring Creek F-H’s fundraising efforts,” she said. “A lot of the members were involved in arts and crafts, making items that we’d sell to raise money.” The work and preparation for each show and compassion for the animals was also an important factor in molding Hughes’s character, help- ing her set her goals and prepare herself for her future in what’s referred to as “The Real World.” In the fall, she plans to pursue a degree at UTA, a stepping stone to her career goal of becoming a regis- tered nurse. “I love to help people,” Hughes said. “I want to spend my life doing good things and help make the world a better place.” Hughes graduated from Weatherford High School, took some basic classes at Weatherford College and now, as assistant manager at Palio’s Pizza Café in Hudson Oaks, carrying quite a lot of responsibility for a 19-year-old. But, she is quick to point out that she loves her job and loves to work. “I love being with people and I love helping people,” she said. “That’s two things that drew me to nursing.” Charley Clark Tenaious Survivor Life can be hard for youngsters, but not many young people possess the determination that Charley Clark has. The 11-year-old young lady overcame a heart condition very early in life. When Charley was just 4 years old, her parents took her to the doctor for an ear infec- tion. What followed was a trip to the cardiologist, where the doctors told her parents that Charley had a heart defect: patent ductus arteriosus (otherwise known as PDA). “When the baby’s in the mother’s womb, the mother’s blood oxygen- ates the baby’s blood,” Charley’s father, Jeff Clark, explained. “After birth, that duct is open between the upper chambers, and that naturally closes. Well, Charley’s never closed … she had to have a heart procedure done when she was a little over 4 years old.” Luckily, Charley’s procedure was a success, and Charley is now quite the