Reba, a pig, is ready for her big show.
Owner Madison Stewart will show Reba at the 36th annual Clear Creek ISD Livestock Show and Auction that begins today.
It’s Stewart’s third pig to show at the annual event.
“You have to train them to respond to the whip and keep their heads up,” Stewart said. “I love the adrenaline rush and how time just stops when I am so focused on staying in front and keeping my eye on the judge.”
Stewart, a 10th-grade student at Clear Springs High School, is one of about 400 Future Farmers of America members participating in the livestock show and auction at the school district barn, 2155 W. NASA Blvd., in Webster.
Raising animals to sell at the show teaches teenagers responsibility, said Kara Cranfill, mother of Isabell Cranfill, a student who is showing rabbits and a steer.
“There’s joy and there are disappointments, and much of it is out of their control,” Cranfill said. “It’s definitely not just about feeding an animal and making it your pet.”
Most students averaged between 20 hours and 30 hours a week feeding and cleaning after their animals at the school district barn, organizers said.
Parents who are boosters for the livestock show said its success depends on the continued and increased support of the community.
The students want buyers at the auction Thursday.
Their most desired type is the commitment buyer, a buyer who commits to buying a student’s animal for a set price. If the animal doesn’t make the live auction, the committed buyer still gets the animal. If the animal does make the live auction, the commitment stands until the bid price exceeds the commitment.
The show organizers also offer an add-on buyer option, which is a way someone can support a student without having to buy an animal. An add-on buyer can add $10 to $10,000 to any student’s project.
Projects that don’t make the live auction are sold in the freezer sale for a set price with no bidding. The buyer has the option of having the animal processed at one of three meat markets.
Stephen Holt, a junior at Clear Springs High School, is showing a steer and heifer this year. Last year, he showed two pigs.
He prefers working with heifers, he said.
“Because I get to keep them longer and breed them,” Holt said.
Kristy Head, 18, graduates in June and has been involved in the livestock shows throughout high school, her mother Nori Head said.
“My daughter goes to the barn twice a day, every day,” Head said. “She gets up early to go to school and before bed. She’s raising a steer, two goats and chickens.”
Her daughter and the other students have learned to treat infections and to understand the importance of the feed they use, Head said. The experience has transformed her daughter, she said.
“She will be an amazing veterinarian all because of the FFA organization and her wonderful instructors at Clear Springs High School,” she said.
Head will miss being an involved parent after her daughter graduates, she said.
“I joke that I’ll have to get my barn fix next year by adopting one of the kiddos at the barn,” Head said.