Pilot Point FFA holds Local Show
By Abigail Allen
Bleats, lows and squeals filled the ag barn and surrounding yard on Sunday for the Pilot Point FFA Local Show.
Participants from elementary through to high school took their turn in the arena, putting their animals on display and getting hands-on experience that they can carry into future shows.
"They always get nervous about local show,” ag sciences teacher Stacy Grona said. "I think they get more nervous about local than they do about county."
The show, which was originally scheduled for Saturday, went on a day late because of the ice storm that started on Feb. 23. It featured goats, sheep, cattle and swine.
Class after class of show animals filed into the barn, followed closely by the students.
When the animals wandered or refused to cooperate, the kids took command of the situation. Sometimes a particularly stubborn lamb or steer needed additional direction from the ag sciences teachers.
When the market sheep were lined up, Sarabeth Hesteande went down the line, giving the creatures a push or a pull in the right direction for them to be lined up and properly displayed.
That's one of the benefits of a local show.
"A lot of these newer kids, this may be their first time in a show setting," PPHS ag sciences teacher Blake Hesteande said. "And so, first and foremost, this is the time for us to get out there and kind of coach as they're showing."
The stands stayed full throughout the show, with participants cycling in and out and supporters finding gaps to fill as they came open.
"It's also a means of publicity [for the program] for those kids to show off [what they've been working on] to, maybe, mom and dad who maybe can't get up there as much as some others," Blake said. "Or aunts and uncles, extended family. And a lot of community members come out to watch as well."
Another benefit is that the area ag teachers support each other.
Jake Parr, who teaches ag sciences at McKinney High School, served as the judge for the entire local competition, just as Blake has for Parr and his brother in the past.
With each prize he awarded, Parr took the time to offer comments—either complimentary or constructive—regarding the animals and the students showing them.
"Let's give a hand for the gentlemen out here," Parr said early in the show. "In just about any species, in any ring, I think there's a lot that goes into showmanship besides the moment you walk into the ring. … It really begins days and weeks and months before you finally get to show, is when you really start really working on your craft and honing your skills and get better each and every day."
He went on to describe how the students, through their showmanship, "can make a good animal look bad or a bad animal look good."
"You can help yourself bump up to a sale slot or work your way out of it," Parr said.
He also provided detailed evaluations of the animals themselves regarding the individual specimens.
"When you read his skeleton, I think he's a little more level in his hip," Parr said to describe his choice in a competition between two sheep.
Besides giving the FFA students an opportunity to practice their skills in a friendly environment, the local show provided the program with a way to help people see and understand its value, Blake said.
The animals shown at the local show stay the property of the students.
"They all stay they retain those, and all those animals are either going to Houston the next two weeks, or the last week of March they'll go to the county fair," Blake said.
The FFA program has another chance to put its students and their skills on display on Saturday at the Pilot Point Family and Friends of the FFA & 4-H dinner and auction.
Tickets can be purchased at the door, with dinner being $15 a plate. There will also be a live and a silent auction featuring the work of the ag sciences students, a dessert sale and raffles.
"Those shop kids are just as talented, but just in a different way," Blake said. "A lot of the shop kids are the ones building those items that will go in the auction."
The same is true of the floral design students.
"It really is a blessing to have a function like that to be able to raise money," he said. "Last year really was an astonishing year, raising $55,000. We set the record on that last year, and we're hoping we can just touch that again and match that."