This year’s Kilgore FFA Project Show and Sale will be even bigger than before with not only high school but also fourth through eighth grade students participating.
The introduction of the Junior FFA program will allow the younger FFA students to show and sell their animal at the April 1 event.
Although it may be an exciting time, FFA teacher Kristin Pieper said, it is also one of the busiest and most stressful times of the year, especially with Kilgore students participating in events at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo through March 26.
“That week when we get back from Houston, we’re going to be clipping animals, preparing, getting everything ready, having work days at the ag farm to get everything ready to go,” Pieper said. “At this point it’s going. It’s fast and furious just making sure everything is ready.”
Although not all students will take on a livestock project at the beginning of the year, Pieper said, those who do must make sure their animal is ready and they have done the work needed for the show.
“It’s a Monday through Sunday job,” Pieper said. “They’re supposed to be coming out every day to feed and water and take care of and then exercise and just prepare. That’s considered showmanship and showmanship is done kind of behind the scenes. You’ve got your show and we’re judging the quality of the animal, but you’ve got your showmanship and that’s where you can see the kids that have been walking and taking care of their stuff and doing that showing behind the scenes.”
As an example, she said, if a student takes on a pig and does not work with the animal, the student will not have the necessary control over the animal.
“It is hard work,” she said. What Pieper likes most about students showing livestock is the responsibility and determination they gain from the experience.
“It’s a friendly atmosphere that teaches the kids to be competitive,” she said. “That desire, dedication. You’ve got to be dedicated to do it, and I’m a firm believer (in) once you start something finish it to the end and let’s keep up the 110 percent the whole way through. My deal is for those that strive hard and work hard, it’ll pay off in the end.”
Pieper anticipates the show and sale being about 50 percent Junior FFA students and 50 percent KHS FFA students. She expects the junior program to continue growing.
“I feel like it will continue to grow tremendously… I’m very impressed with the hard work of those Junior FFA kids,” she said. “It’s definitely a plus for our program.”
The only event in which Junior FFA students cannot participate is ag mechanics because they cannot take the associated class until they are in high school.
Even through the stresses associated with the projects and the annual show and sale, Pieper said, the most gratifying part is seeing students’ hard work pay off and seeing them complete a project they start.
“Seeing students be successful is great,” she continued. “That’s the end result is to see our kids be successful, whether it’s showing an animal, whether it’s building an ag mechanics project. Their success is most important there.”
Pieper also feels the responsibility she has to make sure the students are ready for life after high school in which many of them will not continue into the agriculture business.
“You get into the real world, and you’ve got to be a team player, any type of job setting,” she said. “You’ve got to be able to work well with others… I think it’s important for these kids to learn the leadership, the teamwork, the responsibility, that way they can use it here but then prepare themselves for the real world after high school because the real world is knocking at their doors. I mean, it’ll be here before they know it, and it’s my job to prepare them, get them ready.
The Kilgore FFA Project Show and Sale will be all day April 1 at the Leon Gibson Memorial Ag Farm off Stone Road and the Hwy. 259 bypass in Kilgore. After a March 31 check in, the show will begin at 9 a.m. with three judging rings for rabbits and poultry in one, goats, lambs, pigs, steer and heifers in another and a third area for the ag mechanics projects.
The BBQ dinner before the sale will begin at 5 p.m. at the farm and cost $12 per plate. The sale will then begin at 6 p.m. Proceeds from the non-project specific fundraiser will benefit the Kilgore FFA program with each student getting a portion of the winning bid on their project.
Throughout March 26, Kilgore students will be participating in events at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo through ag mechanics and the calf scramble.
For more information, contact Pieper at 903-987-4160 or ag mechanics teachers Travis Orms at 903-238-1400.