Casey Wingate begins her term as the Florida Cattlemen's Association State Sweetheart.
When Myakka City's Casey Wingate walked away from the Florida Cattlemen's Association 2018 competition to select a State Sweetheart for the industry, she wanted to know why she didn't get the nod.
So she went to the judges and asked.
"They said, 'You didn't believe in yourself," Wingate recalled.
Wingate, an agricultural studies major at Warner University in Lake Wales, knew she believed in herself, but she also knew her nervousness made it appear she didn't.
"I hadn't done a lot of public speaking," she said.
In the past year, she made sure that all changed.
In her role as the Manatee County Sweetheart, she spent the past 12 months doing what made her most uncomfortable, speaking to groups. This time around, she was ready.
"I was more confident," she said of the competition that took place June 17-20 at the Florida Cattlemen's Association convention in at Marco Island. "I have definitely done a lot (of public speaking) now."
With her new honor, she will be doing a lot more.
"Casey being the State Sweetheart is huge for her and for the Manatee County Cattlemen's Association," said Brian Jones, the organization's president. "She is going to let people know how important the agricultural industry is to this state."
Jones said many of Manatee County's ranchers and farmers are not savvy when it comes to social media.
"Casey definitely is connected to Instagram, Twitter and Facebook," he said "She always is promoting the beef industry on social media. She is going to engage kids in agriculture.
"And if anyone thinks she is just a sweetheart, they don't know her. She has been hardworking and dedicated to showing cattle for years. She has dedicated her life to this industry."
Her parents are Myakka City ranchers Gene and Tamara Wingate and her sister, 24-year-old Courtney, and brother, 16-year-old Clay, have been involved in industry-related organizations.
Casey Wingate, who is 19, eventually would like to work as an extension agent.
"I want to share my passion," she said.