At only 14, Cole Hanson is possibly more versed on the Clean Water Act than the average adult.
By Abby Baker
How does a freshman beat out senior-level FFA students to win districts in prepared speaking? Hard work — Cole Hanson spent up to three hours a day practicing the speech that won him the district title earlier this year.
“It (the speech) is about the Clean Water Act,” Cole said. “It limits farmer’s use of water. I’ve got the speech completely memorized.”
“It’s definitely a cutting edge topic,” Thomas Sturgis, Cole’s teacher, said.
Cole’s speech sides against the Clean Water Act, stating that the policy is restricting farmers and homeowners’ rights. He describes that to reverse the law, one would have to go to the local government and fight for an internal change.
“He looked at the little bit of water I have in the backyard and was like, ‘Mom, they could even tell you what to do with that,’” Julie Hasting, Cole’s mother, said.
At districts, the freshman performed his six-minute and thirty-second speech in front of four judges and against eight other students.
“They have to find a topic relevant to agriculture and (Cole’s) speech involves the EPA and other government agencies. They do a lot of research and have to answer questions on their topic.” – Tim Cribbs, an FFA teacher at Durant High School
This summer, Cole is competing against 11 other students at the state competition in Orlando. Many of his competitors are juniors and seniors.
If Cole wins states, he will move on to nationals in Kentucky. There, the 14-year-old student will be up against every speech competitor in America.
“It depends on how well he can present it,” Sturgis said. “He’s got the odds stacked against him.”
The prepared public speaking winner will receive a $1,000 scholarship.
Durant High School has had a student win nationals in the past, so to win again would be an honor for the school.
This was nothing new for Cole. Last year, when he was an eighth-grader, he made it to the same spot in the prepared public speaking contest.