Well-rounded teen helps others at home and abroad

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LOUISBURG, Kan. -- This week's FOX 4 Young Achiever stands out for superb character and caring -- and many extraordinary accomplishments. That makes it very difficult to do a report spotlighting Brandi Feehan because there's so much she does at such a high level. But here goes.

She's been riding horses since she was five and Brandi Feehan has become an accomplished, award-winning equestrian.

"I grew from the little ponies to the bigger horses like Norman here," said Brandi after a quick ride. "And I've grown to love jumping and Western, English and everything. I love just being with the horses and working with them to do jumps and work with them to do incredible things."

For Brandi, riding isn't just a fun, competitive activity at which she excels. It's also at the center of a major part of her very busy community service life.

"I teach the girls everything from safety to grooming the horses and then in the arena I'll teach them how to ride," said Brandi. That's what happens as Brandi volunteers with Girl Scouts at Winding River Equestrian Camp.

"Some of these girls come from really rough backgrounds and I want to be able to help them out," said Brandi. "A lot of the girls connect to the horses. And they're from the city, some of them, and it's the first time they ever get to work with horses and they really get to understand how horses work and how they can do things they never thought they could do before."

Brandi's a longtime Girl Scout herself, getting close to earning the Gold Award, the top achievement in Girl Scouting. Meantime, her love of animals combined with a strong interest in science, sky-high grades at Louisburg High School and near-perfect ACT score have her wanting to become a veterinarian, specializing in cutting edge research and intending to volunteer in foreign countries.

"I want to travel overseas, work with animals and try to help people as well as animals as much as I can," said Brandi.

"A lot of kids have a lot of goals but they can't reach them because they haven't planned what does that mean," said Louisburg High School guidance counselor Susan Moore. "What do I have to do to get that goal? And that's what (Brandi) thinks about every day."

At Louisburg High, where Brandi's a senior leader, she devotes countless non-school hours in near-anonymous service helping Moore tutor other students to do better in the ACT exams, helping them get into good colleges and get valuable scholarship money."

"Some students would be doing things like that just for their resumes' because they know that's what you're supposed to do," said Moore. "But Brandi does it because it makes her happy."

That goes for Brandi's signature project, too. Some classmates who also are focused on community service have joined her in an ambitious effort clipping coupons and sending them off to help U.S. military families stationed abroad.

"And so far I've sent over $35,000 overseas," said Brandi.

$35,000 and growing. Brandi launched this two years ago on her own and now has expanded out into school and the community.

"They have families over there, the men and women that serve us. And I know already they're having a rough time over there. But then this not only helps them financially but emotionally. Anything I can do to help them is awesome," she said.

"Now think about that," said Moore. "A 17-year-old whose happiness relies on helping other people."

And happy helping animals, too.

Of the many other things we could report to you about Brandi, one achievement really does stand out for mention. She's a national star in FFA (Future Farmers of America) competition and a member of Louisburg High's first ever FFA national championship team.

She and her teammates won in the Milk Quality and Products Career Development Event (CDE). The event tests students' knowledge about the recognition, selection and management necessary for quality milk and dairy products.

FOX 4 News is Working 4 You to spotlight outstanding young people and their positive accomplishments. In our weekly report called Reaching 4 Excellence we meet young achievers in subjects like academics, the arts, leadership, community service, volunteerism, career exploration, overcoming obstacles and heroism. Watch for Reaching 4 Excellence every Wednesday on FOX 4 News at 9 p.m. and every Thursday on FOX 4 News at 8 a.m. and noon.

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