Her March 16 presentation was titled The Sweet Smell of Success. By winning over six other finalists in the senior division, she received a $700 cash prize and a felt banner. The finalists in senior and junior divisions were chosen a day earlier from a field of 80.
The March 17 issue of the Houston Chronicle quoted Bethany as saying she had discovered the virtues of cow manure while looking through magazines with her FFA adviser (Sue Witt).
“It was either this or a speech about steak,” Bethany said. “No one would expect a little girl to do a speech about cow manure.”
Chronicle writer Allan Turner also described her winning oration. She detailed the successful efforts of a California dairy farmer in turning a liability—tons of manure generated by a 270-cow herd—into an energy asset. Bethany told how the farmer processed the waste in a methane digester and generated enough electricity to save $6,000 a year.
Commenting that nothing would go unused, Bethany noted that a cow generates 120 pounds of manure a day — waste that can pollute surface water and groundwater with dangerous bacteria and contribute to global warming by releasing methane, a potent greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere.
The Chronicle story quoted one of the three judges, Hillsboro lawyer David Waggoner, as saying he was pleasantly surprised by the quality of entrants in the oratory contest. All the contestants addressed some aspect of agriculture, and each was limited to eight minutes.
Waggoner said the speakers were “better than good” and complimented their research.
Bethany, who also competed in the contest last year, said she hopes to attend Texas A&M University and major in agricultural communication or agricultural leadership.