When she was 5 years old, Abigial Smith asked her parents for the present of a pig, of the pet pot-bellied sort. They produced one for her, but things didn’t end well. The tiny pig sickened with tetanus, a common pig malady, and soon died. The heartbroken Smith, who was growing up in Durham, asked for a new pig. No, her parents said.

“So I said, ‘Fine. I will save up enough money and get my own pig,’ ” she recollects today. “By fifth-grade I had enough money, but not knowing enough about pigs, I bought a pig that was pregnant. We went to a farm, and I liked this one that was white with black spots. I brought it home and named it Oreo. My dad’s friend would come over and say, ‘That pig is pregnant.’ I would say ‘No it’s not.’ And my dad would say, ‘It better not be.’ Two weeks later, I had seven pigs.”

That strong-willed little girl has grown into a determined young woman, and her vision of her future remains animal- and agriculture-focused and as sharp as ever. Smith, now 19, is a student at Kennebec Valley Community College (KVCC), where she is studying sustainable agriculture. She is also the recipient of one of three 2015 Russell Libby Agriculture Scholar Awards.

Her mettle is obvious both in her conversation and in her application for the scholarship: “I am always looking for new agricultural things to learn about,” she wrote. “Any time I get a chance to talk with a farmer or visit another farm, I jump on the opportunity. I want to learn as much as I can before I start my own farm.” Which, by the way, she hopes to do in Maine. “I haven’t traveled a lot, so I can’t be certain,” she said, “but unless I find some place as amazing as Maine… I love Maine – the coast and the woods and the farming community.”

These days, Smith spends a lot of time at the KVCC farm, where she was earlier this week when we spoke by phone to a chorus of bleating. “Can you hear the lambs?” she asked. “I’m going to walk to the other barn because they are going to make a commotion. We just brought their moms to the field, so they can’t see them, they can’t hear them, they’re a little upset.

“I love the sheep. I am a sheep person,” Smith continued.

Which explains her two favorite farm chores, or one of them, anyway: “I think it’s a tossup between haying and shearing. Haying (you are) baking on the field moving really heavy bales. But it’s so rewarding: ‘I just filled this entire barn with hay. I’m going to have all the food I need this winter.’ And then the whole process starts again. The same with shearing.”

Not long ago, Smith helped a farmer shear some 100 sheep. Before they began, she studied the flock and thought to herself, ” ‘Holey moley! Are we going to be able to shear all these sheep?!’ And then we did! And now we have amazing fleece we can turn into wool, and the sheep are nice and comfy for the summer.”

Asked whether many cohorts of her age are as definite as she about their futures, she said probably not. “I like to plan and write things down,” she said. “I like to know what I am doing.”