The 71st Annual Randall County Junior Stock Show kicked off on Tuesday.
More than 200 students participated and there have been more than 500 animal entries.
J.D. Ragland, the Randall County Extension Agent for Agriculture and Natural Resources said the time put into the animals by the junior handlers shows commitment and dedication.
“Exhibitors and youth kiddos have an opportunity to exhibit and showcase their animals that they’ve been working on in some cases up to twelve months,” Ragland said.
Kids in programs like FFA are taught life skills by having to care for their animals.
Senior Emily Thurman, has been showing livestock since third grade. Thurman said being a junior handler has helped her become responsible and self-reliant.
“Responsibility is obvious because I mean you take these animals on as your own almost as your own child for the time being. You have to feed and bathe and keep warm,” Thurman stated.
Jr. handlers don’t just care for their animals, but must also present them in front of a judge, in the show ring.
“So they’re looking for the structure of the animal, bone, major muscle, they want to see that the shape is good and that all the pieces are there to have a solid animal,” Thurman said.
The show ring can be an intimidating place for some kids, but for many, it is all part of the experience.
Junior handler Cash Wallace, is in his fourth year of showing agrees, “I was scared I wasn’t going to do good and I was just like if I didn’t do good I just was like …uh,” Wallace continued “It’s fun to show them and see how they look different from the beginning of the year to how they look at the end of the year.”
Wallace and Thurman encourage kids to try being a junior handler and said they will be proud of themselves and the animal they have raised when all is said and done.
Each animal sold contributes to the scholarships offered to students.
The show continues through Saturday.