By Megan Kehoe

The Bulletin

Brooke Murphy, 14

Pilot Butte Middle School eighth-grader

Activities: Irish dancing, hunting, photography, 4H

Favorite Movie: “Brave”

Favorite TV Shows: “Bones,” “Psych”

Favorite Books: Hunger Games series, Divergent series

Brooke Murphy doesn’t get grossed out by cow brains, antelope hearts or frog legs. She likes spending her weekends among the juniper trees and brush of the Central Oregon wilderness. And there’s nothing she loves more than bringing back fresh meat for the dinner table.

It’s clear the Pilot Butte Middle School eighth-grader isn’t your average 14-year-old girl.

Brooke, a straight-A student, has plenty of unique interests, from dancing to raising pet rabbits for 4H to hunting game. “She’s just one of those kids who’s so well-balanced in her life, and so principled,” said Pat Roberts, Brooke’s art teacher. “She does so many things well, and she’s passionate about all of them.”

One of Brooke’s more unique interests is Irish dancing. Brooke has dabbled in other dance forms, but only really became serious about dancing when she began taking Irish dancing lessons seven years ago. She said one of the reasons she took up the style of dance was because of her heritage.

“Irish dancing is just so different to me,” Brooke said. “So many people do jazz or tap, but I feel like it’s cool to say that I’m an Irish dancer. It fits in with my family tree, too.”

Since starting seven years ago, Brooke has attended dozens of competitions from Seattle to San Francisco, and is a top competitor in Central Oregon for her age bracket . She said one day, she plans to compete at the world championships held in Ireland.

Brooke said all the time she’s put into dancing has had unintended consequences.

“I’ve gotten used to keeping my arms down at my side for seven years,” Brooke said. “So it’s hilarious whenever I try to do something with my arms. I have no coordination.”

Though Brooke jokes about being uncoordinated, it’s far from the truth, especially when it comes to one of her biggest interests: hunting. Brooke first started hunting with her dad at age 7, and during the years she’s developed good aim and a steady trigger finger. She shot her first antelope at age 10 and hasn’t stopped bagging big game. She often spends her weekends hunting with her family at their ranch in Mitchell.

“It’s a really proud moment when, after a year of training, you go out in the field and you get a deer,” Brooke said. “It’s special to be able to give that to your family.”

Brooke said her family only eats meat they’ve hunted, meaning she’s grown up eating parts of deer and antelope that would probably make other kids cringe.

“Some of my friends think it’s weird, but I don’t see it that way,” Brooke said. “I have a better understanding of where our food comes from.”

Brooke said one of the things she enjoys most about hunting is being outside. Her love of the outdoors is something that can be seen in her photography, for which she recently won several gold and silver keys in the Central Oregon Scholastic art contest. She said she takes most of her photos at the ranch in Mitchell, capturing old tires, bird feathers and whatever inspires her.

Though Brooke has plenty of talents she could pursue, she wants to become a forensic pathologist when she grows up. Brooke said her mom, a science teacher, sometimes brings home leftover materials from science units, such as frog carcasses and cow brains, to teach Brooke and her older sister about biology. Brooke said that early influence combined with a natural interest has her hooked on the subject.

Roberts said the Pilot Butte teachers who have had Brooke in their classes agree: Brooke is a rare student.

“She’s an amazing young lady,” Roberts said. “In class, she’s one of a handful that you can always count on.”

— Reporter: 541-383-0354, .