The first time Miranda Moore stepped to a podium to deliver a public speech, she was addressing the crowd at her fifth-grade graduation. The last time she delivered a public address, she won first place in the FFA’s state competition.
Miranda’s victory at the state convention in June makes her North Carolina’s representative in the Prepared Public Speaking competition at the FFA (Future Farmers of America) national convention in Indianapolis, Ind., in October.
Competing at the national level is the culmination of a journey the 2017 South Lenoir High School honor graduate began in earnest her freshman year and one she’s stayed committed to despite some disappointments.
“I actually started out public speaking for FFA my freshman year,” she said. “I made it to regional and didn’t pass.”
As a junior she again qualified for advancement by finishing in the top two in the initial, or federation, competition; but the regional competition date conflicted with her AP exams. “I didn’t get to take my speech any farther,” she said.
“So senior year came, and it was like, we’re going to make it to state. That was my goal, to make it to state in Prepared Public Speaking.”
On the way to her state win, Miranda gave the speech several times – against six other students at the federation competition; again in regional competition, where the top three finishers among 12 competitors advanced; and twice at the state level.
“There are eight regions in the state, so she competed against 24 (at state),” Jean Smith, a now-retired South Lenoir teacher and FFA chapter adviser, explained. “They’re divided into two flights, so she competed against 12 in one of the flights. Judges picked two from each flight, and then the top four gave their speech again to a different panel of judges.”
Miranda’s speech? “The Secrets of Holsteins.”
“That’s a dairy cow,” she said helpfully. “I’m really passionate about this topic because it deals with what my dad’s done for 30 years.” Her father, Neal Moore, is a local restaurateur. The 18-year-old is the daughter of Angel Heath.
She credits a sense of confidence, her passion for public speaking and teachers who became mentors with making her a winner. All of it she found in FFA. “There’s so much I got from FFA,” Miranda said, “but mainly the confidence I see in myself. FFA really taught me that. FFA has really taught me to be passionate.”
Among her champions is Joseph Noble of the South Lenoir faculty, another chapter adviser, who encouraged her pursuit of public speaking in high school. Her talent was spotted years before, however.
“The first time I ever spoke in front of a group was fifth-grade graduation at Southwood Elementary,” Miranda said. “My fifth-grade teacher believed in me. She said you have a voice like no other, you can convince people and you can make them believe what you believe. If you have something to believe in, you should tell it. That’s always stuck with me.
“I spoke at fifth-grade graduation, I spoke at eighth-grade graduation at Woodington and then Mr. Noble picked me up freshman year and said, ‘I’ve heard you, now we’ve got to continue it.’”
To her list of speaking engagements, add the 2017 South Lenoir commencement, where she was one of two seniors chosen to represent their class as graduation speakers.
“We’re very proud of her,” Noble said, a sentiment that probably has only a little to do with Miranda’s success at the state convention.
Miranda graduated magna cum laude and was named a North Carolina Academic Scholar. She was the school’s FFA chapter president her senior year and its secretary her junior year. She was a member of the volleyball, cross country and track teams and accumulated more than 600 hours of community service. “I love serving the community and being active,” she said.
This fall she will enroll at Liberty University with plans to pursue a double major in finance and entrepreneurship and a career goal of becoming a financial analyst.
“I chose Liberty when I was 12 years old,” she said, “so I’m excited.”