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She's Queen of the Farm

Aug. 7, 2002

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Barely two hours after feeding and hosing down the cows, tending to the sheep and pitching hay to the park's two goats (Victoria and Jan), Monica Ganley found herself standing on the makeshift stage at Frying Pan Park in Herndon, dressed in a blue floral sun dress, and bowing her head to accept a purple sash and faux-diamond tiara. Then like Clark Kent in a phone booth, Ganley quickly exchanged her party dress for her usual t-shirt and shorts and was showing livestock to some visiting children before lunch. Say hello to the Queen of the Fairfax County 4-H Fair.

The fair opened Saturday morning with the crowning of this year's queen and king, Monica Ganley and David McGee. Ganley, a Herndon resident, is a 16-year-old rising senior and honors student at Oakton High School and president of the Hoofers and Heifers club. McGee, 17, is from Fairfax and will be a senior at Fairfax High School this Fall.

"My involvement in 4-H has changed my life for the better," Ganley said. She joined the club while she was a student at Benjamin Franklin Middle School. "It really set me apart from other teens because it taught me a lot about leadership and public speaking skills."

Laura Galante agrees. Galante is a close friend of Ganley and a fellow member of the "Fairfax 4-H posse." "Participation in 4-H has been great for Monica, it really forces you to be outgoing and to get out and talk to the public," Galante said. "I mean Monica can do a perfect cow milking presentation for a group of visitors on the drop of a dime. How many girls can do that?"

A San Diego-native who has never lived on a farm, Ganley wants to study either veterinary science or agribusiness at Virginia Tech University, the University of Florida or the University of California at Davis. A suburban girl, Ganley enjoys breaking stereotypes about 4-H. "It's not all cows and hay," she said laughing. "Though most of my friends probably do think I am a hick."

Lindsay Jurns, one of Galante's non-4-H friends, says she occasionally teases Ganley about her love of cows, goats and sheep, but it is all in good fun, she insists. "She is just a regular girl like us," Jurns said. "Except for the fact that she is so freakishly strong; she could kick any one of our butts."

But whatever you do, don't confuse her animals, Jurns said laughing. "I learned that last week when we were talking about some of her animals and I mixed them up," she said of her friend the queen. "She looked right at me and said, 'Lindsay, goats are not sheep.'"

Jurns, the 17-year-old Oakton resident, occasionally visits Ganley at the farm at Frying Pan Park. "I never stay very long though," she admitted. "It just stinks too terribly."