Through nine years, 100 shows, 38 awards and over a dozen animals, Morgan Perez, 17, has found a home in Dickinson’s Future Farmers of America organization.
“I breathe and sleep the barn,” Perez said.
A senior at Dickinson High School, Perez is showing livestock in her last Galveston County Fair & Rodeo this April. With her heifer, Mavis, and lamb, Vader, she will compete in the Junior Heifer Commercial Show and the Junior Market Lamb Show.
Perez has found success in the agriculture group and continues working to get as much out of it as she can. Many students ask her for help with showmanship when they see her at the Dickinson Agriculture Science Facility, because of her ability to connect with animals, she said
“If I see a kid struggling with something, I try to go help them in any way I can,” Perez said. “It’s so fun to work with someone for a while and see them benefit at showtime.”
Perez mainly helps students with their livestock handling techniques and showmanship, which has helped some receive higher recognition at shows. She also works closely with her younger sister, Destiny, who will be showing a goat in the Galveston County Fair & Rodeo this year.
Helping other students to raise and show livestock has become a passion for Perez that she hopes to continue after finishing her education.
“It’s so expensive and difficult to be a part of FFA,” Perez said. “I want to open my own cattle business to help people who can’t afford to house animals and help teach kids how to show without having to pay a lot of money.”
After making it through a busy four years in high school, Perez plans to attend the College of the Mainland and then transfer to the University of Texas Medical Branch to study nursing. Perez hopes to work as a nurse practitioner while working with FFA students on the side.
Perez spends around 20 hours a week at the Dickinson Agriculture Science Facility, where most students house and take care of their livestock. She balances this time with regular school work, studying, scholarship applications and clinical training for Dickinson’s Certified Nursing Assistant program.
Perez has always enjoyed being around animals, but started loving the competition in high school.
“Doing FFA made me open up to people when I used to be a shy kid,” Perez said. “It’s taught me responsibility and given me a leadership opportunity I would have never had before.”
Balancing her daily life while making the club a priority has also helped prepare Perez for the responsibilities and struggles of the real world. This year, she lost her first animal unexpectedly, a steer named Little Man.
“It was really hard losing my steer in the middle of the year,” Perez said.
Animals become much more than pets to students after nearly a year caring for them.
“It’s like taking care of a child every day, because you really bond with the animals,” Perez said. “Years have made it easier, but it’s always hard to watch the market animals go.”
Through stress and hardships, Perez has a constant support system through her parents, Christy and Lee Perez. Morgan and Destiny help each other while their parents let them take the reins on raising their animals.
“We are just so proud of Morgan,” Christy said. “She has become such an independent person and so many kids look up to her; it’s amazing to witness.”
“She has become so confident and responsible. FFA has really helped her grow and mature on her own.”
Perez competed in the Junior Breeding Beef Show Chianina with her heifer, Mavis, at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo this year. She placed seventh and received a scholarship from Steer Starlettes, a sub-committee of the Steer Auction Committee.
Although it’s her final competition, Perez is looking forward to her last shows as a student.
“It’s going to be hard and I’m probably going to cry when it’s over,” Morgan said. “But I have been making this the most memorable year ever.”