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      Meet This Week's Ag Kid: Maria Gunnels

      17-year-old Maria Gunnels is continuing with the family tradition of showing and rasing cattle.

      Meet 17-year-old Maria Gunnels of Novinger. Agriculture was something her family took pride in as her parents and older brothers had a big interest in raising cattle. Her interest kicked when she got involved in 4-H and decided to continue with the family tradition. She says cows are her pets.

      "You build a special bond with them, and they become your best friend. You are with them 9 months out of the year and you spend a lot of time working with them," Gunnels said.

      For the past nine years, Maria has shown her cattle at the NEMO, Sullivan, and Missouri State Fairs and has gone home with Grand Champion and Showmanship. According to Maria it takes a lot of hard work and responsibility to take care of her cows and prepare them for the shows.

      "You have to make sure they have feed every night and hay. Walking them every day helps them in the show ring. You use a show stick to help them not get nervous and know what to do with their feet," Gunnels said.

      Maria has also been able to share some funny and memorable moments with her cows.

      "A couple of years ago, I had a steer and we were really close, and he would always lick me. One day I was out washing him, and he almost pulled my shorts off," Gunnels said.

      Maria wants to continue working in agriculture as it helped shape her into the person she is today.

      "I'm responsible and do my chores when I need to get stuff done. I do recommend it. You can always try it. If you don't like one thing, you can always find something in agriculture that you like," Gunnels said

      When not working with his cattle, Maria keeps herself busy with being on the basketball and softball teams at school.

      She is planning to attend college after graduation to study speech pathology.

      Congratulations Maria on being this week's Ag Kid.