Canceled livestock show leaves FFA students in limbo

Sophomore+Amri+Williams+shows+animals+at+the+Humble+Livestock+Show+in+early+January+with+the+help+of+sophomores+Mackenzie+Dandridge+and+Holly+Emms.+She+was+also+raising+animals+for+the+Houston+Livestock+Show+but+did+not+get+an+opportunity+before+the+show+was+closed.

Alicyn Logue

Sophomore Amri Williams shows animals at the Humble Livestock Show in early January with the help of sophomores Mackenzie Dandridge and Holly Emms. She was also raising animals for the Houston Livestock Show but did not get an opportunity before the show was closed.

By Trinity Curl, Kingwood Park High School

FFA students spent months preparing to show their animals at the Houston Livestock Show. They were devastated when Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner announced the livestock show was closing almost two weeks early because of the coronavirus. 

“I spent so much time with [my pig] and did so much research on this pig,” junior Katelyn Spangler said. “To be told that I wouldn’t be given that opportunity to show and gain that experience was heartbreaking.”

Spangler has raised three pigs and 30 chickens in the past two years of FFA. This was her first year preparing an animal to show at the Houston Livestock show. Spangler was at home when she heard the rodeo was closing.

Financially and emotionally, I have put a lot into this pig. The rodeo provides quite a bit of scholarships and had I shown I would have had an opportunity to gain one of those scholarships.”

— Katelyn Spangler, junior

“First, my grandma called and said the news said they were closing the rodeo; and so I turned on the news to see if what she said was true,” Spangler said. 

Missing the opportunity to show her pig wasn’t only heartbreaking for Spangler, but it also caused financial stress. Spangler has invested more than $1,000 into her pig. 

“Financially and emotionally, I have put a lot into this pig,” Spangler said. “The rodeo provides quite a bit of scholarships and had I shown I would have had an opportunity to gain one of those scholarships.”

The Houston Livestock Show gives over $2 million to FFA students each year. These scholarships are given to students regardless of whether or not a student’s animal sells during one of the auctions. With the Houston Livestock Show closed, students had to find ways to make alternate arrangements for their animals.

“They have choices,” FFA advisor Genevieve Ubnoskye said. “They can process the animals, give them away, give to a petting zoo, etc.” 

Sophomore Amri Williams had raised 75 chickens and 50 turkeys for this year’s Houston Livestock Show. Williams had poured more than $2,500 into her chickens and turkeys. Williams has already made arrangements for her turkeys and chickens. 

“After the rodeo closed, I processed my animals and gave them to friends and family,” Williams said. 

Before the Houston Livestock Show was canceled, three FFA students made an auction with their sheep. The four other FFA students weren’t able to show their animals. The Houston Livestock Show is working with surrounding communities to compensate and put on shows for the students who weren’t able to show their animals. For the students who still have their animals, Ubnoskye is helping students make arrangements. 

“I am checking on them via text and Schoology,” Ubnoskye said. “We are still figuring out what to do with the pigs.”

Three students have been housing their pigs at the KHS/KPHS agriculture facilities. And each of them learned from the experience. Spangler remains positive and is also able to learn a lesson from the Houston Livestock Show. 

“From this experience I learned that life doesn’t go as planned and regardless of the outcome you have to dust yourself off and try again,” Spangler said. 

This story was originally published on Park Times on April 2, 2020.