Though he’s just old enough to have a driver’s license, North Hardin High School junior Joseph Spence can call himself a farmer, firefighter and certified leader.

Spence co-operates a farm in Vine Grove, where he trains and breeds horses. He said his equestrian interests began after meeting trainer Terrace Myles through North Hardin’s Phi Beta Sigma Men­toring Program. Spence said he began raising and breeding horses with Myles about two years ago and his responsibilities on the farm have increased over time.

“He had some friends who had horses and I kind of fell in love with farming in general,” Spence said.

According to Myles, Spence is a natural when it comes to working with horses.

“I used to go out to the barn daily but after watching Joseph over these past couple of years grow and become responsible, I might go out to the barn maybe twice a week,” he said. “He leaves it the way he finds it.”

Spence now travels as far as Alabama and Mississippi to breed horses and currently takes care of more than 10 horses.

With knowledge of horse training and breeding, Spence serves as youth president of the Kentucky Hardriders. Through the club, Spence has participated in several regional parades, including the annual Pegasus Parade in Louisville. He also has competed in regional horse shows, including a barrel racing competition through the LaRue Coun­ty Saddle Club.

Spence brought one of his horses to the school’s FFA field last year for fellow students to enjoy. He said he plans to bring his horse to school again before the end of the academic year.

“A lot of people know me as the horse guy,” he said. “That gives me a positive outlook. Being an African-American male, they don’t expect that.”

Spence said his interest in agriculture was inspired by childhood summer visits with his grandfather in West Virginia. This inspired him to join North Hardin’s FFA chapter.

Joining the club when he was a freshman, Spence said he is one of the first North Hardin juniors to become a school officer. He said he will run for a regional officer position during an FFA gathering next month.

“It’s really to be the role model for those who are coming up,” Spence said of his role.

Spence also is involved in North Hardin’s JROTC pro­gram. He currently serves as a drill commander, raider commander and a second lieutenant, and serves on JROTC’s honor guard and archery team.

“It’s taught me to keep push­ing no matter what,” Spence said of JROTC.

This penchant for service manifests in Spence’s role as a volunteer on the Vine Grove Fire Department. He began volunteering with the department about two years ago and regularly participates in training sessions.

Though he’s currently too young to respond to emergency calls, Spence has developed skills in areas such as personal protective equipment, fire res­cue, hazardous materials, ground forces, forcible entry and siren signaling.

“My goal is to save every life that I can,” he said.

If all of these involvements weren’t enough, Spence also competes with North Hardin’s wrestling team and has earned a welding certification through the Hardin County Schools Early College and Career Center.

Considering his many involvements at school and in the community, Myles said he is eager to see what the future holds for Spence.

“I’m really waiting to see where this kid goes in life because he possesses things I don’t think I developed until I was in my mid-twenties,” Myles said.

Andrew Critchelow can be reached at 270-505-1746 or acritchelow@thenewsenterprise.com.