The Times photo by Betsy Reason
Lilly Canaday, 18, Fishers, holds up Tucker, her painted turtle, during the Pocket Pets 4-H competition at the Hamilton County 4-H Fair. She will compete at 10 a.m. today in the Advanced Division of the Indiana State Fair Public Speaking contest.
The Times photo by Betsy Reason Lilly Canaday, 18, Fishers, holds up Tucker, her painted turtle, during the Pocket Pets 4-H competition at the Hamilton County 4-H Fair. She will compete at 10 a.m. today in the Advanced Division of the Indiana State Fair Public Speaking contest.
Lilly Canaday is a bubbly 18-year-old who owns a painted turtle named Tucker. She loves shooting sports. And she finds public speaking relaxing.
A 10-year Hamilton County 4-H’er, she was a 4-H Fair queen contestant this year. She also earned the county 4-H program’s Tenure Award, given to one female and one male 4-H’er each year. Daniel Burton also received the award.
“I think it’s more of an award, serving in 4-H, being available to help and sticking with it for 10 years,” said Canaday of her Tenure Award. “Daniel is president of (Hamilton County 4-H) Junior Leaders, and I’m the vice president,” Canaday said.
It’s awarded by number of projects, as well as success in those projects over 10 years.
The Fishers resident, a member of the Friends Forever 4-H Club and the daughter of Shawn and Amy Canaday, has completed 78 4-H projects, including nine years both in Pocket Pets and Cake Decorating.
One of the projects that she has done well in is Public Speaking. Today, she competes at 10 a.m. in the Advanced Division of the Indiana State Fair Public Speaking contest at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. She qualified for state in the Hamilton County 4-H Public Speaking contest during the county 4-H Fair with her topic on a recent Citizenship Washington Focus trip.
“We went sightseeing, saw all of the monuments, memorials and different museums. We did a few different workshops, like bill-writing, action planning and town hall. We discussed a lot of current issues and ways we could make a difference in our community, as well as looking at 4-H on the national scale. It was a whole lot of fun.”
While some people cringe at the thought of public speaking, she loves it. And is good at it. Evident from our conversation.
“But my favorite (4-H) project is Shooting Sports,” said Canaday, whose career goal may surprise some folks.
She wants to be a public spokesperson for the National Rifle Association, a gun-rights advocacy group.
Next year, she’ll be a muzzleloader instructor for Hamilton County 4-H Shooting Sports and a certified NRA instructor. She will work on networking through the connections she has with the NRA through 4-H. Canaday is hoping to be an assistant to the state representative to help plan all of the Friends of NRA banquets in Indiana.
“I’m pretty excited,” said Canaday who, as a sophomore, was invited to speak at an NRA banquet as a 4-H representative. “It was a lot of fun,” she said. Canaday was unable to attend this year’s NRA Convention in Indianapolis because she was competing in a regional speech and debate tournament.
“After I gave my speech at the NRA banquet, I realized that if I could give speeches like this the rest of my life, I would be very happy,” Canaday said. “And I realized that I can, through a spokesperson or representative position. I can do that for the rest of my life. By combining my passion for speech and debate and shooting, I figured out, ‘You know, you should do what you want and what you’re passionate about for the rest of your life.’ And I figured out that was what I wanted to do.”
Canaday is strong willed about working for the NRA.
“I just love shooting. I have a passion for speech and debate. I’ve always had it since I started five years ago. And I can use the NRA as an outlet for that. I’m very passionate about the government and the Constitution. And it’s an organization that holds a lot of the values I like. I get to shoot, too,” she said.
In 4-H, she began in Shooting Sports with the Rifle discipline. Then she moved to Shotgun. “I’ve taken all five (disciplines), so Rifle, Shotgun, Archery, Pistol and Muzzleloading.),” said Canaday, who started in Shooting Sports in fifth grade.
Her whole family enjoys shooting sports. “My dad is a certified instructor for Rifle. He’s the volunteer coordinator for Robotics and also the leader of the Rifle project,” said Canaday, who has three siblings, Christina, 21; Katy, 16; and Charlie, 11.
Her mom is a club leader for Friends Forever 4-H Club. “She volunteers for everything,” Canaday said. “She’s not a specific project superintendent, but she’s always ready to ask questions, especially for new families.”
The home-schooled teen, who’ll graduate in May 2020, hasn’t yet decided if she’ll go to college. “I’m ready to go to college if I decide to go to college. But I do want to work on networking. If I don’t need to go to college, I don’t have to spend the money.”
She’ll use her scholarships, including a 4-H achievement award and the Matthew Huff 4-H scholarship, to enroll in dual-credit courses. The achievement award, she said, “was for having done well and stayed with a project for six or more years.” The Huff scholarship, she said, “is a very character-based award. It goes to someone who’s always ready to crack a joke, make someone laugh and help have a positive atmosphere.”
Canaday smiled a big smile as she held up her turtle during the Pocket Pets 4-H competition at the County 4-H Fair.
“He likes people. He likes attention, and he is about 7 years old. I’ve had him since 2011,” when he was “just a baby.” Most interesting tidbit about owning a turtle? “They’re reptiles, so they need a heat lamp and UV light to help their shells grow. They need water and food just like any other pet,” she said, after spending several minutes talking to the judge about her turtle.
Right now, Canaday is already a great spokesperson for 4-H.
She said, “I think everybody should come to 4-H, because it’s a great way to explore your interest and learn to grow.”

-Contact Betsy Reason at betsy@thetimes24-7.com.