By Valerie Shelton, Editor
Clovis FFA had a tremendous showing at this year’s Big Fresno Fair, with students earning ribbons in showmanship, breeding and market competitions for livestock.
Around 70 students in the Clovis FFA program showed animals at the fair, according to Aireal Covey, one of six agriculture and FFA teachers at Clovis East High School. The majority of students participating were from Clovis East, where the Clovis FFA agricultural courses are taught, but students from the other four high schools were also involved.
“In our program we have 700 students that take agricultural classes at Clovis East High School and we service students not just from Clovis East but Clovis High, Buchanan, Clovis West and Clovis North,” Covey said. “Usually those students are juniors and seniors because Clovis West, Clovis North and Buchanan all have to transport themselves but there is a bus that brings about 15 kids over to us in the morning from Clovis High. Though we are housed at Clovis East, we service the entire school district, we just don’t have as many students from the other schools as we do from Clovis East. We have a total of 70 students that show animals at the fair and another 50 that exhibit other types of projects so it is a pretty big deal getting close to 120 to 130 students involved.”
Each of the six agriculture teachers has different projects they oversee. Covey is in charge of the horticulture and floral design portion of the program and this year also supervised students showing goats at the fair—a first for Covey.
Goats are shown week one of the fair so the pressure was on for those students to get the first ribbons for their livestock. During the showmanship competition day one of the fair it was clear that Clovis FFA came prepared as two Clovis students battled it out in the arena for first and second place in the junior/senior showmanship.
Clovis East senior Devyn Palmer ended up taking first place, while Clovis East junior Mikaela Kirk took second—although the judge noted both did extremely well and his final choice came down to preference.
Palmer is no stranger to winning. As a sophomore, her goat earned supreme champion and her junior year she earned reserve champion and won round robin—a competition between all the champion animals. Every year is different, though, and she was unsure how her goat would do but was glad to take home a first place prize her senior year.
Palmer’s mom, Christine Palmer, was in the stands cheering on her daughter and was proud to see her take first in the end.
“I’m so proud of her right now,” Christine Palmer said. “There is nothing like ending on a good note and knowing she won three years in a row for showmanship. This is the first time that she bred her own goat and it’s a little bit small because the mom started to die and they had to do a c-section before the mom died or we would have lost the goat so it’s been kind of a struggle. He’s underweight so we’re scared going into the market competition, but I’m glad she pulled out showmanship.”
Showmanship, Devyn said, is all about how the animal looks.
“The showmanship is judged on how well you can show your goat so when you show you want the legs set up and your want it to look square and you want to display their muscle tone,” Devyn said. “It’s almost like a bodybuilding contest. That is exactly what it is for the goats. We take the fur down so you can see their body and we fluff up their legs so it looks like they are wider in the legs and then we make them look all pretty.”
This differs from breeding animals, which are judged on their maternal looks and how well they can produce offspring, and market animals which are judged by weight and other factors that go into making that animal good for meat.
During week two of competition, sheep, beef cattle, and swine were shown.
Clovis East senior Zach Buckley was one of the big winners week two, earning champion colored steer and first place showmanship with his steer, Skittles.
Buckley said a lot of preparation goes into showing a steer at the fair. While students care for their other animals throughout the summer and sometimes part of the spring before the fair, students who want to show a steer have to invest even more time. Buckley purchased Skittles last October when the steer was about six months old.
“He was basically a baby calf and I grew him to full size for market weight,” Buckley said. “He’s the only one I have this year and I focused on him. I trained his hair by blowing it forward two or three times a day, that way he can grow as much hair as possible to make him appear better looking .I also exercised him daily, taking him on walks that way he didn’t get tight-legged and he built muscle. I fed him morning and night and had to have a scheduled time I fed him because they like to have a regular routine.”
Skittles is a Hereford Shorthorn cross breed with no black markings, so he showed in the All Other Colors division, which Buckley said is a difficult division.
“I was pretty happy with how he did in the market competition,” Buckely said. “We also had showmanship and I was able to win the junior/senior advanced showmanship.”
Clovis FFA steers weren’t the only animals named champions. Clovis FFA also had a supreme champion hog.
Kayla Brugetti, a recent Clovis North graduate who wanted to show an animal this year [a high school graduate can show at the fair the first two years after graduation] said she was surprised that her pig, Pancake, won because it was her first time showing a pig.
“I bought him just for kicks because I really wanted to show and I ended up winning everything which was crazy,” Brugetti said. “I had never shown a pig before. I did steers and lambs and rabbits but had never done a pig and was a little short on money so thought, why not? Steers are a lot more work. You have them at least nine months out of the year and the pig I just bought in July. Steers are also high up and a lot stronger than you so when you get them, you have to show them whose boss, where with a pig you can just love on them and hope they listen to you and you bond with them.”
Brugetti is currently taking a semester off of school but plans to attend Reedley College next semester and major in animal science.
“Hopefully I can get on their show team and show steers again because I loved it, it was my passion,” Brugetti said.
In addition to doing well in livestock competitions, Covey said Clovis FFA was proud to win champion for its landscape display.
Next up, Covey said Clovis FFA students are now going to gear up for spring competitions.
“Surprisingly the fair is not the biggest thing we do,” Covey said. “As far as the livestock spectrum part, yes the fair is the biggest show we take students to, but we also travel in the spring throughout California going to different colleges where they have field days and there are competitions based on career development. The areas we compete in are agriculture mechanics, welding, stock judging, nursery landscape judging, vet science and meats evaluation. We go as far north as CSU Chico and down to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo for state finals and with that we have as many as seven kids competing on each team so we have a pretty good sized group, sometimes 50 to 60 kids traveling with us in the springtime, so in the spring that’s our main focus, while in the fall, it’s the fair.”
Cynthia Atondo – 5th place Senior Showmanship, 1st place French Lop Buck, 1st place French Lop Doe
Ashley Melton – 1st place Mini Lop Buck, Best Opposite Sex Breed
Eleanor Cumming – Reserve Champion FFA Market Goat, Reserve Supreme Champion Breeding Doe, Champion pen of 2, 6th place Senior Showmanship.
Mikaela Kirk – 2nd place Senior Showmanship
Devyn Palmer – 1st place Senior Showmanship
Shauntel Statt – 7th place Senior Showmanship
Jonathan Woodard – 12th place Freshman/Sophomore Showmanship
Champion Chapter Group
Emilie Gambril – 2nd place Senior Showmanship
Bethany Pollastrini – 9th place Senior Showmanship
Anahi Rivera – 10th place Senior Showmanship, Champion Bred by Exhibitor Breeding Ewe
Kaytlyn Weber – 3rd place Novice Showmanship, 9th place Freshman/Sophomore Showmanship
Kaylee Melton – 5th place Novice Showmanship
*David Valdez – 1st place Novice Showmanship
*David Valdez – Supreme Champion Steer
Mitchell Parham – Reserve Champion Colored Steer
Zach Buckley – Champion Colored Steer, 1st place senior showmanship
Champion Chapter Group
Kayla Brugetti – Supreme Champion Hog
Hannah Sanders – 1st place Novice Showmanship
Samantha Hogan – 1st place Senior Showmanship
Aaron Woodard – 3rd place Senior Showmanship
Champion Landscape Display