Baylee Easterday doesn’t stumble, pause or mumble when she speaks.
“I’ve always liked giving speeches and presentations,” the Chiawana High School junior said.
“I like being able to get in front of people and talk about things that I’m passionate about, because the easiest topics are the ones that I’m interested in.”
Her talent and passion for speech catapulted Baylee into two national competitions this year — the National Speech and Debate Association’s competition next week in Birmingham, Ala., and the Future Farmers of America’s national convention in October in Indianapolis, Ind.
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Baylee joined the high school’s speech and debate team in her freshman year after seeing a poster.
“I showed up to an informational meeting and I fell in love with it, and I started doing as many events as possible,” she said.
She traveled across the state to participate in as many events as she could fit in.
I showed up to an informational meeting and I fell in love with it, and I started doing as many events as possible.
Baylee Easterday, Chiawana High School student
“It’s like the commitment of a sport without the athleticism,” she said. “We go to lots of competitions for that. Basically, I don’t have any weekends in the fall.”
Speech and debate coach Vicky Hyde said Baylee walked on to the team with such a depth of knowledge that she was able to talk about almost anything.
“It immediately shot her to the top of the pack,” she said.
Her talent for speaking found its way into her agricultural pursuits. A child of farmers, Baylee was told she was going to participate in the FFA.
While she didn’t plan on competing in the public speaking events, her grandmother told one of her advisers they should find her an event to showcase her talent.
Baylee agreed, and after spending a season on the parley team, she returned with an increased interest in the club.
I don’t know if she’s good at speech and debate because she’s good at (listening) or she’s good at doing that because of speech and debate.
Vicky Hyde, speech and debate coach
Caitlin Coulsey, one of Chiawana’s FFA advisers, said Baylee is an agricultural advocate who doesn’t simply include the basics in her presentations, but gives the judges an in-depth view of a topic.
“She’s really good at hearing what others say,” Coulsey said. “She digests it a bit and then she gives it back to you in a better version.”
The Chiawana student’s trip to Birmingham next week is her second to the National Speech and Debate Association’s competition.
“The biggest reason I’m excited ... this year is that I have teammates going with me,” she said. “That’s one of my favorite things about speech — it’s very individualized, but we always have teammates that are there.”
She is participating in oratory, where she will compete against 250 other students from across the country. Her 10-minute prepared speech is centered on misconceptions surrounding love.
After two days of competition, she will learn whether she will make the cut to the next round of 60. If she doesn’t, she will get the chance to jump into another competition.
In October’s national FFA event, she will compete against 49 people, one from every other state. She will pick one of three provided topics and prepare for the next 30 minutes before giving a six-minute speech.
Along with getting to listen to other students and share her ideas with people, there is one other thing Baylee likes about the competitions.
“I like being successful. It’s really fun getting trophies and stuff. It’s cool,” she said.