Cy-Fair ISD spotlights agriculture
By KIM JACKSON
For months now, 420 high school students throughout the Cypress Fairbanks school district have been working morning, noon and night and most weekends tending to the hogs, lambs, goats, rabbits, chickens, turkeys, steers and heifers they committed to raise and show in the district's 16th Annual Livestock Show and Sale.
Many say they are nervous and excited about the event, which will be held Feb. 11-13 at Cy-Fair ISD's Exhibit Center, 11206 Telge Road. They have put heart and soul into their work and it will all come down to the judges' decisions.
640 animals on display
The total number of animals entered by students from all 10 Cy-Fair ISD high schools will be 640. The rabbit, poultry, lamb and steer/heifer shows will take place on Feb. 11 beginning at 8 a.m., and the swine and goat shows take place on Feb. 12 beginning at 8 a.m.
The Buyers' Luncheon will be held at Arnold Middle School, 11111 Telge Road, at 11 a.m. on Feb. 13; and the Premium Auction begins at 1 p.m. at the Exhibit Center the same day. Last year, the Cy-Fair community gave a total of $510,740 at the Premium Sale, Freezer Sale and in donations to students.
Everyone is welcome to participate in our livestock sale," said David Reynolds, Cy-Fair ISD's Coordinator of Technology Education and Agriculture Science. Without community support and participation the show would not be possible."
Cypress Ranch students
Future Farmers of America students at one of the district's newest high schools Cypress Ranch High School on Fry Road will participate in the show for the second year. They plan to enter about 50 animals.
They said there is a bittersweet feeling associated with the annual show. On one hand, they are proud to show the animals they have raised since babies; but on the other hand they realize it is time to face the fact that their livestock could be sold to the highest bidder. The end result, they said, is the life lessons learned through the effort they put into their task; and the money they receive for future projects or college educations.
Cy-Ranch junior FFA student Heather Kilway said she immediately deposited into an education account the $9,000 she received for her Reserve Grand Champion Swine at the 2009 Cy-Fair ISD Livestock Show auction. She said she hopes to attend Texas A&M and major in veterinary medicine. She will show one hog at the livestock show this year.
I have learned so much through FFA and I think it is important for kids to get involved at a young age," Kilway said. We are responsible for everything with our animals, and we learn a lot about the agriculture industry. If that industry did not exist, we would all be hungry and naked."
I see the world completely differently because of my involvement in FFA," she said.
Junior Cy-Ranch FFA vice president Tabetha Wilson will show chickens and two goats at the Cy-Fair show. She said each morning before her first period class, which begins at 7:25 a.m., she goes to the district's agriculture barn on Telge Road and waters and feeds her animals. She does the same after school, and spends a good part of each weekend with them.
It is hard work, but worth it," Wilson said. I am glad I am a part of this."
Junior Owen Ondruch, Cy Ranch FFA president, said he is from an agricultural family and started showing animals at a young age through a local Harris County 4-H Club. He will show a hog, goat and heifer at the Cy-Fair ISD Livestock show.
We are given leadership opportunities that you just can't get in any other club," Ondruch said. You take care of your animals before you take care of yourself."
Leading the way
Brandy Elrod, Cy Ranch FFA sponsor and agriscience teacher, said she has witnessed the benefits of the 4-H and FFA programs through her students and firsthand. She also participated in 4-H and FFA programs in Waller County and served as judge in equine competitions from the time she was 8 years old through college. With her earnings and scholarships funds, she was able to earn a bachelor's degree in agriculture economics from Prairie View A&M University and a master's degree in agriculture development from Texas A&M University.
She will pursue her doctorate in fall 2011.
I love to teach students about agriculture it makes the world go round," Elrod said. In order to keep that industry thriving and growing, we must help our kids today become tomorrow's future leaders."
That is also why the community's continued support of Cy-Fair ISD's Livestock Show is so important.
Elrod said she loves participating in the shows with her students. She said it is crunch time now and students are preparing their animals for the big event.
It is similar to body builders preparing for a big show," she said. They spend 8-9 hours in the gym during the two weeks leading up to the event. Our students are prepping the animals making sure they have plenty of water, certain types of food, and working with them to make sure they know how to stand and walk. I am making trips out to the ag barns once a week to check on the animals and their pens."
Ondruch said raising the animals is hard work, and the two weeks leading up to the show is even more intense.
Everyone has put in the same amount of time, and parents and friends are there to support us," Ondruch said. It all comes down to the 25-30 minutes the judges are in the pen."
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