DELAWARE COUNTY - They say it is always good to be able to go back home.

That is very much the reason Lora Hicks is excited to be back home with her new job as a 4H educator at the Delaware County Extension Office.

"I am super excited to be back home in Jay," Hicks said. " I wanted to get back where they were closer to family. I want my kids to be raised around the same things that I was when I was going up."

A 2006 graduate of Jay High School, Hicks, whose maiden name was Bowzer, went to NEO in 2012 and then Panhandle State where she graduated in 2015 with a bachelor's in animal science.

"This job was related to the field I wanted to be in and this job would be a good way to get my foot in the door at the extension office," Hicks said.

She received her State Farm Degree while being a part of Jay FFA. She was very active in FFA raising and showing pigs all four years of high school.

"I decided to go into animal science because I have always had a love for animals," Hicks said. "It has always been my drive to get into that industry and into that field. With Doc [Dearl Cunningham] as a teacher, he taught all kind of things about animals about the different breeds about how the different species are suppose to grow and that sparked interest in so many ways.

"Those are things that contributed to what I want to do."

Hicks' husband Stephen is also a Jay graduate in the class of 2005.

"He was the FFA President at Jay his senior year," Hicks said. "He works for Oklahoma Natural Gas and is still currently living in Enid waiting on a transfer. But he will be transferring to Tulsa to soon."

Hicks has been working at Advanced Pierre Foods in Enid. She started as quality assurance technician and then moved up to a quality assurance lead and then supervisor.

"I took a big pay cut to come here," Hicks said."I went from salary to hourly to come here. It was steep jump for us but in the long run it will be good for me and my family. Sometimes it not about the money that matters; it is the quality of life."

Hicks said she feels her prior experience will help her in her job.

"I have raised pigs in the past and also had horses," Hicks said. "I have a little insight with poultry because my family has worked with Cobb. But I haven't had a lot of experience with cattle. Hogs are more my thing.

"I took a lot of classes that dealt with hogs. I did do some AI classes on beef cattle and then I did a project on AI pigs."

In high school, she raised Duroc and Hereford pigs. She also raised York pigs.

"We also had some Hereford crosses," Hicks said. "I was the only one around that raised Hereford hogs back then."

She also believes that her hard work with her animals will help in here job.

"One year, my stepfather wanted to do something different so one of my projects were Hereford hogs," Hicks said. "They are a little different than other species of pigs. I walked my pigs every evening. Some times it seemed like all evening. But I had this one Hereford pig that just wouldn't walk no matter what I did. I walked him repetitively. Then soon as I got him in the show ring he would start to run. So I understand the hard work and dedication it takes to do any project."

Another part of her former life in the area that she wants to rediscover is riding horses and rodeo.

"I used to barrel race and her family was involved with rodeo," Hicks said. "I went to a lot of local events. I started in when I was very little big enough to sit on a horse. Then I did play days up until I got into middle school and then I didn't do it anymore. My grandfather did a lot of team penning at Southwest City and I used to rope with him and my dad.

"Another thing that I have done since I have been back was I rode a horse for the first time in a very long time was around Thanksgiving. I actually got out and rode and roped with my dad at his house in Joplin. It was awesome."

Most of her spare time is spent with her sons, five and eight years old.

"I wanted to come here so they could get active in 4H and then FFA when they get older," hicks said. "They enjoy going to shows and all that. They can do jackpot shows and stuff like that until they get older."

Overall, her feeling of coming home is fulfilling.

"We have been wanting to come home for a while," Hicks said. "I want our kids to experience the life we experienced growing up. Both my husband and I have a lot of family around this area. I want my kids to know what that feels like.

"We have been waiting for an opportunity and we got that when I got this job. I just love this feeling of being home."