HARLINGEN — Hector Salinas energetically tapped the hog as he walked it around the arena.
Decked out in a colorful checkered shirt and straw hat, the life skills student from Harlingen High School impressed everyone yesterday, including the announcer, D.J. Wernecke.
“He’s doing a good job,” said Wernecke, who is also general manager of the Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show and Rodeo in Mercedes.
Hector, 19, was one of 10 life skills students from HHS who showed animals yesterday afternoon at the Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District’s Ag Farm.
Several of the school district’s agriculture students were there to show them how to properly tap the hogs with a show stick.
“It was amazing, phenomenal,” said E.J. Guerrero, who’d coached Hector on proper showmanship techniques.
“I liked seeing the way it put smiles on their faces and teaching them what we do in agriculture, how we show,” said E.J., 18, a senior at HHS.
His agriculture teacher, Todd Cash, said the district began holding this event last year.
“It gives kids from the life skills class an opportunity to interact with the livestock show animals,” he said. “This event gives them the opportunity to do something that they will never have another opportunity to do.”
The crowd, which included Superintendent Art Cavazos, School Board Trustee Gerry Fleuriet, parents and friends, cheered for both the life skills and ag students.
“Whoo! Whoo!” everyone shouted as Maricela Macias, 14, stepped into the arena and walked hesitantly toward a hog.
Under the guidance of Trent Gilbert, an eighth grader at Gutierrez Middle School, she began tapping his black cross breed lightly on the side. The two moved slowly around the ring and she left with a shining trophy.
Her mother, Silvia Hernandez, thanked the district for giving her this opportunity.
“I feel excited for her,” Hernandez said. “This is her first time. She’s enjoying it and I’m proud of her.”
Carmen Salinas was proud of her son Hector.
“I am very happy and I love the idea that they got the kids in FFA involved,” she said. “They are doing more and more for our special needs children and they really enjoy it.”
Cavazos commended the kids in the ag program for their work.
“We have some very talented kids who are fully vested in the ag program,” he said.