When the toddler stepped into the show ring at the county fair in 1996, he wasn’t there because he had wandered away from his parents. No, he was a young man with a mission—that of showing his Hampshire gilt.
Now it’s safe to assume that to a 2-year-old, all pigs of a particular breed look pretty much alike. But little Will was able to distinguish his porker from the others in the ring—his had a bow tied to its tail.
Furthermore, he and his gilt won reserve breed honors. Not a bad accomplishment for someone who can barely say “Hampshire.”
Through the years, Will has continued to enter swine in livestock shows—until recently, when he switched to cattle.
And through the years, he has taken home many ribbons for his pigs.
Then last year, as a junior at Central High, Will Derryberry decided to discontinue showing swine and instead began grooming a couple of heifers, a Chianina and a Commercial, for the show ring.
“Grooming” borders on understatement. Because cattle have hair, they require more time and attention in preparation than other livestock.
In addition to ensuring his heifers receive the proper nutrition and exercise, Will must spend around an hour-and-a-half twice daily on each animal, for a total of six hours a day, working on their hair alone. First, he shampoos each heifer from head to tail. Then there’s the blow-drying process and the thorough brushing throughout, stroking each section of hair so as to train it to lie in a particular direction.
All of this pampering is designed to thicken the animal’s coat, increase its luster, and enhance the heifer’s overall appearance. No “cowlicks” for Will’s animals—that’s for sure!
One might assume he would eventually grow to resent this constant demand on his time and energies.
So much for false assumptions.
Will’s mother, Staci Bowles, observed during a recent interview, “He really enjoys going to the barn.” Her son concurred.
“What Will is interested in, Will does whole-heartedly,” said Kimbreley Davis, county extension educator for 4-H. “And it’s definitely taught him time management.”
Will’s commitment to the onerous tasks has paid off. At last spring’s junior livestock show, his Commercial heifer won reserve breed honors; and at this year’s Marlow District Fair and Stephens County Free Fair, he captured the Grand Champion title with his Chianina heifer.
Considering the demands placed on the teen by the care of his animals, combined with his studies (he’s carrying a 3.61 GPA), his involvement in Broncho baseball, his 4-H commitments, and the multitude of other things yammering for his time and attention, oftentimes “there’s not enough hours in the day,” he admitted.
Mr. 4-HWill joined Central High’s 4-H Cloverbud program as soon as he was old enough, and he’s now in his 13th year of 4-H involvement and serving his third term as county president. Altogether, he has been a member of the county’s officer team five years.
Kim Davis’ observation that he does things whole-heartedly is no stretch. Will has received just about every honor the county 4-H program has to offer, not to mention several awards on the state level.
He was named top member in the county in fourth, sixth, seventh and ninth grades. All-Star honors came his way in eighth grade, and Super All-Star in ninth through 11th.
Other county recognition includes five years of being chosen outstanding fair exhibitor and 36 wins at Stephens County’s annual 4-H Cook-Off, where his culinary skills have earned him 18 first-place, 10 second-place, and eight third-place honors.
His sophomore year, he was named to the Oklahoma 4-H Blue Group, which singles out the top 24 4-H’ers from across the state. He has also been inducted into the prestigious 4-H Key Club, an honor society with lifetime membership.
Because of his outstanding citizenship and leadership, Will has been tapped for four different trips over the past 3½ years.
In March 2009, he was one of 32 delegates to attend a leadership conference in Kansas City. Then in January 2011, he participated in the Western Denver Round-Up.
Last November, he was among only 32 Oklahoma delegates to attend the National 4-H Congress in Atlanta. And this past June, he was selected to attend the 4-H program’s Citizenship Washington Focus in the nation’s capital.
A bit of money has also come Will’s way through his citizenship and leadership efforts. He instituted and coordinated a food drive to benefit OKC’s Ronald McDonald House that started with Central High School and later expanded to include Platt College in Lawton. This project helped secure him a 4-H Citizenship savings bond.
The food drive, combined with his work as a Cloverbud leader and with workshops he conducted for other 4-H’ers, earned Will a Leadership savings bond.
During his freshman and sophomore years, he was named among the Top Three 4-H members statewide; and in 2011, he nabbed top spot.
Focus on foodAccording to Kim, 4-H offers members more than 50 focus areas from which to choose, and Will opted for food science.
This interest is much like that having to do with show rings—it can be traced back to his childhood, to a time when he enjoyed watching his grandfather, Burt Derryberry, work his magic at a backyard grill.
“Pawpaw’s been cookin’ on the grill as long as I can remember,” Will said.
“And he (Will) was right there with him,” added Staci.
Potato soup is Will’s specialty. His secret, he divulged, is using bacon grease instead of cooking oil. Not as healthy, maybe, but more delicious.
This use of substitutions is a hallmark of Will’s food preparation technique; he tailors a recipe to his own tastes.
His firm belief in individualism—his rejection of stereotypes and refusal to force himself to meet someone else’s expectations—likely influenced his choice of food science as his focus area.
In Kim’s words, he chose it because it allowed him to “mold it to who he was.”
It seems to be working for him.
“When you’re in 4-H, you become your own person,” Will surmised, “and in being that person, you are not judged on the person you are based on the sole fact that you are a 4-H’er. In 4-H, you don’t need to hide. You realize your real potential and become a better person. Through 4-H, your life will be changed; and if you let it change you, there is no limit to the things you can do. . . .”
Will has received statewide awards for his food science expertise. The Shawnee Milling Company recently honored him with its Bread Award, recognizing his use of their products in breadmaking projects; and the Oklahoma Peanut Producers bestowed their Peanut Award on him for his displays and demonstrations promoting the nutritional value of their product.
In 2011, he was the state food project winner, a coup that secured him a $1,000 scholarship to the school of his choice. And this past July, he placed fourth in the state with his advance FCS project.
Outside the kitchenWilliam Wade Derryberry was born in Duncan on August 5, 1994. His mom is a dental assistant in Duncan; and his dad, Dean Bowles, who was a maintenance technician for the Tennant Corporation, died last year.
and show ring
and show ring
Will has deep roots in the Central High community. His grandparents, Burt and Shirley Derryberry, are longtime residents.
At CHS, Will is active in FFA, including the sporting clays team, and the Student Council. Until this year, he played defensive end and offensive lineman for the Bronchos; and next spring, he’ll still be covering first base for the school’s baseball team.
In his spare time (what little there is), he enjoys hunting deer and quail and fishing for bass, catfish and crappie. And is he a good fisherman?
“Depends on what kind of day I’m having,” was his droll response.
Using the skills he learned from his grandfather, Will has been in charge of the grill during the preparation of meals for various organizations at the fairgrounds.
He attends the Chisholm Trail Church of Christ in Duncan and is active in the youth group.
Will dates CHS sophomore Keena Huffman and drives a one-ton Dodge “dually.” And, oh yes, he has already registered to vote.
After graduation, Will plans to attend OSU, where he will major in plant and soil science, a discipline that provides a broad range of professional options, he explained.