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MERCEDES — For hundreds of Rio Grande Valley teenagers involved in FFA and 4-H, last week’s 73rd annual Rio Grande Valley Livestock show put their hard work to the test as they showcased their goats, hogs and cattle, among other animals or agriculture products to earn a spot in the winners circle.
The Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show, which was first held in 1940 on the grounds of a local livestock sales yard with makeshift pens and lean-to sheds, has come to be known as the premier livestock show in South Texas. It draws exhibitors from all across the state and according to Gregory Bean, the show’s advance ticket sales director and advertising and public relations director, the 2012 Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show set a new record.
“This is our 73rd annual show and Saturday was the highest attended day of all the years we have had the livestock show,” he said. “We had to stop selling rodeo tickets 45 minutes prior to the rodeo performance because it sold out and we had wonderful, wonderful crowds.”
Many local students excelled in many different competitions. From the grand champion shop project built by a group of Sharyland FFA students to the grand champion photograph taken by a La Joya Palmview FFA member to the 10-year-old Mission Veterans Memorial Junior FFA member whose 1st place market goat outweighed her by 14 pounds, FFA, Junior FFA and 4-H members from La Joya, Mission and Sharyland certainly took home more than their share of trophies, ribbons, belt buckles and prize money.
As great as it is for the students to receive these awards, it is what they represent that really matters.
“Our kids have done really well, said Marco Barrientes, Sharyland High School agricultural sciences teacher and FFA advisor.
“It’s a culmination of a lot of hard work over the 12-month period that these kids have had these animals,” he said. “And at the same time sometimes these kids might fall short of making the sale but it’s not for a lack of effort on part of the teachers, the advisors or the students. What it comes down to is that we’re not only trying to raise blue ribbon animals, we’re trying to raise blue ribbon kids too. That’s the most important part.”
“The main purpose of the show is to teach the kids about agriculture and its importance. It teaches them life skills that will benefit them as they mature into adults,” he said. “It’s also about family working together and striving towards a goal.”
Mission High School FFA members that were among the big winners were Alyssa Flores who earned reserve breed champion with her Santa Gertrudis steer, Juan Martinez with his 1st place medium wool market lamb and his 2nd place market goat, Kayla Mora with her 2nd place Southdown market lamb and Justin Cerda with his 2nd place market goat.
Veterans Memorial High School FFA had several winners as well. Among them were Raymend Mueller with his light medium reserve champion market goat, Roy Guerrero with his reserve breed champion ABC steer, Bella Alaniz with her 1st place market goat, Armando Garza with his 2nd place Duroc market hog, Matthew Borrego with his 2nd place medium wool market lamb and Joseph Ocana with his 2nd place light cross market hog.
The three La Joya High Schools FFA chapters had many winners as well, and not just with their livestock projects. Abigail Gonzalez of the La Joya Palmview FFA won top honors when her scenic photograph taken at Moab, Utah was selected as the grand champion winning photograph. Other Palmview FFA top winners included Sacha Velez with her 2nd place Duroc market hog and Elizabeth E. Saenz with her 2nd place medium wool market lamb.
Oscar Flores of the La Joya High School FFA was his chapter’s top winner with the breed champion Southdown market lamb. He also had a 2nd place winner with his Santa Gertrudis steer. Ashley Campos was another top winner from the La Joya FFA with her 1st place market goat.
Among La Joya Juarez Lincoln FFA’s top winners were Gilbert Lopez with his 2nd place medium wool market lamb and Carlos Ramirez with his 2nd place fine wool cross market lamb.
Daniel Hinojosa had two of the Sharyland 4-H Club’s top winners with his reserve grand champion medium wool market lamb and his heavy weight champion market goat. Other Sharyland 4-H top winners included Alexandra Longoria with her breed champion fine wool cross market lamb, Katherine C. Torres with her breed reserve champion fine wool market lamb, Sarah Labus with her breed reserve champion fine wool cross market lamb and her 1st place market goat, Melanie Turrubiates with her 2nd place market goat and Desiree Rangel with her 2nd place market goat.
Two other members of the Sharyland 4-H Club walked away with top honors in the breeding cattle and breeding goat divisions. Evan Forshage exhibited the grand champion Beefmaster female and the grand champion junior Beefmaster female while Abigail Hanna exhibited the grand champion and reserve grand champion junior purebred female breeding goats.
Sharyland FFA members were certainly no strangers to the winner’s circle. Among their top winners were Gabriel J. Gomez with his reserve grand champion market goat, Christopher G. Mendiola with his breed champion Simbrah market steer, Clyte Best with his breed reserve champion AOB market steer, Teah Barrientes with her 1st place ABC market steer, Allyah M. Silva with her 1st place Yorkshire market hog, Geovanna Garza with her 1st place (8th overall) horticulture project, Seth Carter with his 1st place Dark Cross market hog, Shane Carter with his 1st place Dark Cross market hog, Molly T. Corona with her 2nd place Dark Cross market hog, Reyes H. Martinez with his 2nd place Duroc market hog, Lauren D. Gonzalez with her 2nd place ABC market steer, Sierra N. Long with her 2nd place OPB market hog, Kayla R. Marek with her 2nd place Charolais market steer, Katherine C. Torres with her 2nd place Light Cross market hog and Aimee Cazares with her 2nd place Dark Cross market hog.
Sharyland FFA also had the grand champion shop project with a three-piece executive desk that Tyler Paul Kelley, Jazette Hagne, Reyes Martinez, Mitchell Pippenger and Katherine C. Torres built from lumber that was once part of an old railroad station storage facility. This desk was designed and built especially for Richard Wallrath of Centerville, Texas. Wallrath has donated millions of dollars to the Texas FFA and 4-H foundations and his life story is the subject of a movie entitled “Deep in the Heart.”
Other Sharyland FFA shop project winners included Megan Nelson who took 1st place in the home interior and conveniences (small) division and Edgar Garcia with his 1st place taxidermy entry.
Go to our photo galleries for the full winner circle photos by Barker Photography http://progresstimes.net/gallery.html
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The Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.