Hard work earns ribbons for students, goats

MERCEDES — “Awesome!”

Elly Marie Saenz, 10, just beamed as she left the arena with her prize-winning goat.

She’d taken second place for her class in the lightweight division, culminating long hours of work preparing her prize animal.

“He had a bigger loin than everybody else,” Elly Marie said yesterday at the Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show.

The goat judging began at 8 a.m. in anticipation of numerous students showing their animals all morning. Joshua Munoz, 15, took first place for his goat.

“It’s exciting,” he said. “I worked really hard on the goat. It takes a lot of practice. You have to feed them properly. I worked with him for one or two hours every day.”

Joshua, a sophomore at Santa Rosa High School, has been showing animals and shop projects for years. Elly Marie of Mission was enjoying her first year showing while others were finishing this chapter in their lives.

“It’s my senior year,” said Karina Saenz, 18, a member of Palm View FFA in La Joy.

Karina, not related to the youngster, left the arena with a prize-winning goat and a smile on her face.

“It’s a good way to end my show season,” she said. “This is my 10th year. I have met people from all over the Rio Grande Valley at livestock shows. I’ve made lifetime friends. It’s a good experience that brought my family closer.”

Elly Marie, a fourth grader, was looking forward to building many more years of livestock show memories.

“I like it because there are so many people I could go against,” she said. “There are different animal that I would love like sheep and lambs and goats. I’m showing a lamb on Thursday.”

Her mother Marilu Saenz was delighted.

“It’s a good experience for her,” she said. “This is what drives her when she gets home.”

Of course, she’s had to direct her daughter’s enthusiasm somewhat.

“She wants to go and take care of the animals first,” she said. “Her academics come first. She knows that rule.”

Hard work and discipline seemed to be the cardinal rules for every winner at the livestock show, whether or not they won a ribbon. And camaraderie seemed to be a first class benefit.