AURORA — At 12, Isabelle Hauser knows what career path she plans to follow, and it’s one well-trod by others in her family.
Except that no one else in the family has ever been State Agriculture commissioner.
Isabelle — Izzy to her family — is the fifth generation of a farming family. The Hausers’ 250 acres straddles the line between southern Preston County and Garrett County, Md.
Her dad, Terry Hauser, is an agriculture teacher in Maryland. Older brother Andrew is a senior at WVU, where he is studying to be an agriculture teacher, and brother Jacob is at Potomac State College of WVU, studying to be a physical education teacher.
“I want to be an agriculture teacher as well and do something in ag,” Izzy said.
Four students, ages 11 to 15, served as Honorary Commissioners of Agriculture for the Day during the State Fair of West Virginia in August. In addition to Hauser, there was Jared Moles of Clay County, Laney Burns of Tucker County and Devin Price of Hancock County.
Students wrote essays on the theme, “The Future of Agriculture: Ideas for Feeding the World,” to apply.
“I told them that in Preston County there are lots of local farmers that grow lots of produce and sell it very cheap,” Hauser said. She gave examples of local farmers who contribute squash, along with recipes, to the Garrett County school backpack program, and the Farm to School program, where local foods are served in school cafeterias.
The Hausers raise dairy cattle, and Izzy has a small herd of Suffolk/Hampshire cross sheep.
“I like feeding the sheep better than I do the cows,” she said.
This year she showed a lamb and a market hog at the Garrett Agricultural Fair. “I sold my pig for $3.75 a pound,” she reported. She will put some of the money into next year’s animals and some away for college. She also won Reserve Grand Champion in the Ladies Lead, where contestants lead a lamb while wearing clothing they made from wool and answer judges’ questions.
Hauser was 11 at the time of the state fair. She attends Southern, Md., Middle School, where she is a seventh grader.
The State Fair wasn’t a totally new experience for her, because her mom Jill Hauser’s parents live in Lewisburg, where the fair is held.
“I toured the fair and talked to business people in the West Virginia Pavilion,” Hauser said. She also met State Agriculture Veterinarian Dr. Erica Alt.
“I just asked her different things to do with some of my animals,” Hauser said. “Because one of my roosters had a broken leg at that time, and she talked me through how to splint it.”
She and her parents followed the advice, and Campbell the rooster is fine now, Hauser said.
The students shadowed State Agriculture Commissioner Kent Leonhardt and his staff, sat in on meetings and events, toured the fairgrounds and learned Leonhardt’s role in the fair. They also will be featured in the September Market Bulletin.
“He seemed nice,” Hauser said of Leonhardt.
In a news release, Leonhardt said, “We have to inspire the next generation of farmers and producers. Allowing these young people to see myself and those who work in the department in action may spark a life-time of learning. This is a great example of doing what you preach.”