Students preparing their animals for competition

HARLINGEN – It’s not just about the livestock.

The Future Farmers of America uses hogs, steers and other animals presented at livestock shows to teach young people about leadership, discipline and organization. Other projects might include photography, horticulture and shop.

That’s why the FFA is celebrating its heritage this week.

“This week, we have Spirit Week,” said Georgia Newell, 18, president of the Harlingen FFA.

“Everybody dresses up the way they want,” said Georgia, a senior at Harlingen High School.

“Thursday is USA Day and Friday is Blue and Gold,” she said. “Those are the national FFA colors.”

Students at both HHS and Harlingen High School South are increasing awareness about the organization.

“Throughout the week, the students are just doing promotional things like handing out stickers and telling kids how they can get involved with FFA,” said Roxanne Gonzales, Ag instructor at HHSS.

The process of preparing a project, where it’s livestock or something else, builds discipline in students.

From the outside, most people don’t realize the scope of such an undertaking.

“The kids have to go out there every day, feeding in the morning, feeding at night,” Gonzales said. “Then you go into photography, they start learning how to use a camera better.”

Horticulture projects require students to keep a detailed record of growing plants.

“Students learn a vast amount of skills to continue into the future,” Gonzales said.

Ag students are aware of skills they are learning.

“I have been in FFA for four or five years,” said Madison Callier, 16, a senior at HHS.

“I have grown as a team leader as well,” she said. “I’m a leader for our chapter. It builds your confidence with adults. I feel it’s important to help people understand what Ag is and how it affects people.”

Todd Cash, Ag science teacher at HHS, says students are vigorously preparing for the Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show and Rodeo next month in Mercedes.

“We are trying to get the pigs in their top performance, adjusting the feed,” Cash said.


FFA students from Harlingen and other parts of the Valley are preparing for the Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show and Rodeo which will take place March 8 – 19 in Mercedes. The Valley Morning Star will provide extensive coverage of this event as it unfolds. Don’t miss an upcoming feature story about the kids getting their animals and projects ready. You don’t want to miss it.