If you ask 17-year-old Nina Finley about her 300-square-meter Seattle farm, she’ll mention the gorgeous view of the downtown skyline; how she can hear the rumble of nearby traffic; her show rabbit, Coalslaw, her five chickens and three ducks, of course; and how this backyard plot has been a place of refuge for her for nearly a decade. While attending the county fair at age 9, Finley realized she wanted to be a farmer. “The instant I walked into the 4-H club’s livestock barn, I was home,” she says. Finley didn’t waste time reaching for her goals — she began drawing blueprints for her future farm, reading books about caring for farm animals and joined the Snohomish 4-H club, Wild ’n’ Woolies. In 2011, Finley and her mother founded their own urban farming 4-H club, Cooped Up in Seattle. Celebrating its first anniversary this year, the club features 30 regular members (ages 5–19), with monthly meetings, community service options, its own poultry show and much more. “4-H helps kids develop life skills by tapping into the energy and excitement they feel for their projects,” Finley says. “We learn how to make cheese, preserve vegetables; kids give public presentations or run for a club office and lead their peers.” Today, Finley has fine-tuned her career aspirations. She’s applying to colleges that specialize in animal science and veterinary programs for large animals. “I couldn’t help but think, I could be working with large animals for a living! I could influence industrial agriculture, help cure mastitis or be educating subsistence through Heifer International. I realized how much sense a veterinary degree would make for me.”

Posted on 28 February, 2012, 2:44pm.