Story and photo by Dawn Arden
Public Affairs Office

FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (Oct. 11, 2018) — Taylor Duncan, a 5-year-old military child, has stolen the hearts of those residing in her host state of Missouri, while on a mission to have ice cream with every mayor in the state.

As of Oct. 3, Taylor has met and had ice cream with more than 114 mayors from across the state. Along the way she has also met the Missouri governor, and Fort Leonard Wood’s commanding general, command sergeant major and garrison commander.

“This is her big project for the year,” said Taylor’s mother, Therese. “(While homeschooling) we wanted to focus on communities, where we are living, and to learn about the state in general.”

Therese said while they are still trying to get a solid count, they have found that there are more than 900 mayors in Missouri.

Why ice cream?

“It’s the state dessert,” Taylor answered, adding that orange sherbet and cotton candy were her favorite flavors.

In addition to eating ice cream, Taylor said she likes meeting new friends and learning about the state.

“The state bird is the blue bird,” she said. “That is my favorite fact.”

Taylor said there is one thing she would change if she were in charge.

“I would like to change the state fish,” she said. “I don’t really like the catfish that much, but I love the fish that I want to change it to — the angel fish.”

Therese and her husband, Michael, who is a captain in the U.S. Army MP Corps, are supporting their daughter’s dreams along the way.

“What we’re hoping she gets out of all this, is seeing that anything is possible,” Therese said. “And even though you’re a kid you can still learn about your community, be a part of it and help. You can do that no matter what your age, and not to let people tell her, ‘oh you’re just a child,’ because this child just met the governor last week.”

According to her mom, learning about the community and state in which she lives has given Taylor a good understanding about how the government and cities work.

Taylor said, “I’m hoping to be council, then mayor, then governor, then president and president again, then governor again, then mayor again, then council again.”

Therese said she also hopes other military families learn from Taylor’s adventures.

“Don’t be afraid to get involved in your community,” she said. “Even if it seems like the military has control of where you’re going — don’t let that discourage you and just get involved.”

Maj. Gen. Donna Martin, MSCoE and Fort Leonard Wood commanding general, shows Taylor Duncan her collection of military coins Oct. 3.