In dealing with all of the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic this year, Stephany Ramirez actually found a bright spot – namely enough time in her schedule to join the Dekaney High School FFA Club, where she has spent the last six months raising a pig named Stella.
“I wasn’t able to join last year because I had marching band,” said Ramirez. “It’s been a very good experience and journey.”
The culmination of that journey was on Thursday, when the 70th Annual Spring Livestock Show & Fair opened its three-day fair at the district’s Nagy Pavilion, with students showing their animals and arts projects. The highlight of the event will be on Saturday, including a silent auction, special recognition and awards ceremony, followed by the annual live auction. Proceeds help the students fund future projects as well as postsecondary goals.
Spring ISD Trustee Jana Gonzales was among those who turned out for the first day of the show, held in-person but with all of the district’s health and safety protocols in place. After last year’s show being held entirely online because of the pandemic, this year’s event is a welcome return to mostly normal.
“The students are super excited about getting to show what they’ve raised,” she said. “This last year has been hard and they’ve accomplished a lot with what they’ve been dealt.”
Among the challenges was Winter Storm Uri in February, when freezing temperatures required students to haul water to the ag barn to ensure their animals survived the frigid weather. That kind of hard work, including feeding the animals twice a day, goes a long way to instilling both discipline and responsibility.
For Ramirez, it also helped establish a rapport with her pig Stella, who was scheduled to take part in the market swine show Thursday evening, the results of which would help determine whether the pig will be destined for processing or breeding. “It’s hard because you build a bond with them,” she said.
Dekaney FFA freshman Shunteria Jarmon, who took home two titles — Grand Champion Single Fryer and Grand Champion Pen of 3 during the rabbit event on Thursday — says this was her first livestock show after only two months of breeding rabbits. “I would like to use some of the funds raised this year for next year’s show, some for college and if there’s a little left, treat myself,” she said.
Senior Angelina Vargas says her involvement with the Wunsche FFA “Pig Squad” over the past four years in high school has grown her love and appreciation of livestock. She has plans on attending University of California-Davis in hopes of studying veterinary medicine.
“This will be my fourth pig this year and I started showing off because I wanted to do more for my college applications,” said Vargas. “I then began to fall in love with the program and getting to see the animals grow and how we can help them. I’m trying to decide which small animals or livestock I would like to work with in the future.”
Spring High School agriculture science teacher and Tri-Club President Courtney Musterman said she hopes the community will turn out in support of all the students taking part in the event. “I’m just excited about having the show in person, and having these students not only have the opportunity to show, but allowing their family to watch them show, to have people there to support them and cheer them on,” she said.