Students show animals at Big Fresno Fair

October 8, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Rides, food and live entertainment - that's what the Big Fresno Fair is known for.

But it's not all fun and games. The fair also provides kids with a platform to learn and discover new things.

We're talking about the junior livestock exhibit at the Big Fresno Fair. It's a place where local high school students teach others about how our food is farmed.

And Monday Action News learned about the time, energy and discipline that goes into raising the animals.

It's day one of week two at the Big Fresno Fair and that means high school students from all over the Valley are moving in new herds of animals to show and eventually sell at the junior livestock auction on Saturday.

"I'm the only person in my family that's actually been on a farm and worked on a farm and I grew up in the city so this whole farmer thing was new to me, but it actually grew on me and I enjoy it a lot," Central High grad Mason Rickerd said.

Rickerd just graduated from Central High School. As part of the Future Farmers of America program, he brought along two hogs he's hoping will earn him top dollar.

"One things you look for in hogs mostly is a muscular top line. You see this groove right here? You can see a really expressive groove right down the middle, that represents muscle and muscle equals meat," Rickerd said. "And one other thing is the fat content. If you look at this hog how it has a lot more cover down it's belly area as opposed to this one right here that equals flavor."

Most of what he learned he says came from ag teacher Chris Williams, who told Action News the FFA program teaches kids responsibility, teamwork and dedication.

"The cattle kids have had their cows about 4 months, the hog and sheep kids have had their animals about 80 days and since they've had those critters, they've been cleaning pens, caring for their animals in terms of their health, making sure those animals are fed properly and then training them so they can work in the show ring," Williams said.

"I spend about 2-3 hours every single night with my animals," Clovis East student Melanie Gould said.

Hours well spent as students learn where their food, fiber and pharmaceuticals come from.

"There's a lot of people out there that are alive today because they have heart valves from pigs, or burn victims have skin grafts from pigs, diabetics and their insulin, a lot of those are swine based. They save lives, feed people and they're enjoyable to work with," Williams said.

The students are pulled out of school to be able to participate in educating others about their animals at the fair but tell Action News their downtime is spent working on homework assigned by their teachers.

Mason tells me he'd like to own his own farm one day while Melanie is already taking classes towards becoming a vet. Both plan to show their animals again next year.


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