By Stuart J. Pearlman, TSB Staff
The FFA program at McKinney ISD is very broad. Between the three McKinney high schools, almost 500 kids participate in everything from livestock exhibition to leadership and career development events.
“Typically we try to start them off when they are freshmen,” said MISD Ag Science Leader Rick Lemmons. “We try to offer something for everyone and can take them in almost any direction they want to go, whether that’s Animal Science, Ag Mechanics or Vet Science.”
There is also Junior FFA program for kids younger than high school. They don’t take the classes but are allowed to participate in the showings. They can start as early as third grade or nine years old.
Not every student participates in extra-curricular activities however. According to Lemmons, in a typical year there are around 40 pigs, 20-25 steers, 8-12 heifers and a dozen or more lambs and goats shown.
“Our youth learn valuable skills that will be carried over in their lives long after their schools days are over,” Lemmons said. “Through supervised agricultural experience projects our young men and women are becoming leaders in our community and developing character that will make them successful in any endeavor they pursue.”
This year’s State Fair of Texas is one of the many venues where these kids get to show their animals. The Youth Market Shows occur during the first week of October and will be the place to find many proud McKinney FFA students.
Here is a sampling of our local contributors.
10-year-old 5th grader at Wilmeth Elementary
Animals Exhibiting: Two pigs – “Pigzilla”, a gilt cross and “Pigatron”, a Duroc barrow
A little bit about Gabriael: She showed at the Collin County show last January. Gabriael is excited about learning from Mr. Lacy, her pig advisor. She was the youngest on the pig team this summer. She has had three pigs and always names them with “PIG” in the name. She is also showing goats later this year.
17-year-old Senior at McKinney Boyd High School
Animals exhibiting: Three Steers – one Angus named “Bocephus”, one Hereford named “Herfie” and one Maine named “Bubba”
A little bit about Sierra: “I am in many clubs including FFA, 4-H, Girl Scouts, KeyClub, and National Honor Society,” Sierra said. “I also have a lamb and a heifer that is about to deliver her first calf. I am President of the Boyd High School FFA club, President of the McKinney 4-H club, and working on my Girl Scouts Gold Award by creating a Special Needs Livestock Show this Oct. 20th at Myers Park.”
11-year-old 6th grader at Dowell Middle School
Animals exhibiting: Hampshire gilt pig named “Summer”
A little bit about Paige: “I love to show pigs, play softball and have fun with my friends,” Paige said.
16-year-old Junior at McKinney Boyd High School
Animals exhibiting: Pig breed Yorkshire named “Pokie”
A little bit about Wyatt: “We moved to Texas five years ago,” Wyatt said. “I always wanted to show pigs, but never did. We would just go to the fair and I would watch.
“I have an older bother who was taking Ag class at Boyd High School. On back to school night I went with my Mom and brother we started talking to Mrs. Bigham the Ag teacher who said I could join FFA as a junior member. From that day on I’ve been an active FFA member.
“I have won two belt buckles with Pokie, and over all Grand Reserve at the North Texas Fair.
“My goal is to have a career dealing with pigs. I hope that one day I can become a pig breeder.”
14-year-old freshman at McKinney High School
Animals exhibiting: “Charlie” – Crossbred Market Steer, “Ed” – Chianina Prospect Steer, “Luke” – Limousin Prospect Steer, and “Roger” – Santa Gertrudis Prospect Steer
A little bit about Trenton: He plays soccer for MHS and shows steers.
16-year-old junior at McKinney High School
Animals exhibiting: “Big Red” – Duroc gilt, “Daniell” – Cross gilt, and “10-4 Good Buddy” – Dark Cross Barrow
A little bit about Ashlee: “Showing livestock is my life,” Ashlee said. “I have been named champion showman at a lot of the shows I have gone to. I currently have six pigs and two cows at the barn so that is what I’m doing every day after school is taking care of them.
“I have been showing for the past three years and love everything about it. It is a wonderful experience and you get to spend time with great people.”
For more information on the Youth Market Shows at the State Fair of Texas click here.