Livestock show teaches life lessons
It is raining and humid at the agricultural facility at Orange High School in Hillsborough. Here, two market steers, a posse of goats and lambs, and a contingent of market hogs are being groomed, having their hair done, and even receiving some fine-detailed ear cleansing.
It is the eve of the Central Piedmont Livestock show, held today and Thursday on Orange Grove Road in Hillsborough. For more than six decades, youths from Durham, Person, and surrounding counties have shown animals at the show that are judged, and eventually sold. While the show has endured, some things have changed.
“Kids don’t live on farms and have animals like they used to,” said David Latta, one of three agriculture teachers at Orange High.
His colleague, Jordan Moore, said, “We offer something motivational and really different and the kids really embrace these challenges of caring for livestock.”
While younger kids and middle-school children can participate in the livestock show as part of a 4-H project, those at Orange High raise animals as part of their Future Farmers of America project. “We are one of a handful of schools in the state that has an agriculture program and barn and livestock on school grounds,” said Rusty Wagoner, the third and longest tenured member of the agriculture curriculum at Orange High.
Both Wagoner and Latta are repeating a bit of their history as they lead the youth – the two as teenagers at Orange High also showed animals at the livestock show.
Moore, originally from Texas, has her roots in hog-raising. She began showing livestock when she was 3 years old. “It was instilled into me at a very early age and I showed pigs my whole life, essentially,” Moore said.
Latta and Wagoner said they view the livestock show as an extremely important lesson in life, especially for teenagers. “What we do at Orange is we give a kid an opportunity to learn responsibility. When a kid buys a pig the pig relies on them to feed it, walk it, care for it, and take ownership for the success and progress of a pig’s growth. When a teenager raises a pig, life happens,” Latta said.
When the show begins at 1 p.m. today, FFA members will see the conclusion of a project that they volunteered to shepherd and all of the many hours and resources will pale in comparison to lessons learned by caring for animals. “I really am astonished when a kid comes in and has absolutely no experience being around livestock and they totally embrace the challenge,” Moore said.
For the three educational custodians at Orange High that oversee the various agricultural, science and mechanical curriculums, the labor, time and after-hours work and advice are helpful for the fad-frenzied life of a teenager, especially for the possibility of what might be inspired from cleaning the wax and dirt from the left ear of a 275-pound grunting, shuffling, whistle-clean hog.
“Clearly, we are not doing this for kids to make money, because it just doesn’t happen. This curriculum here is about something more and it’s been here for as long as Orange High has been in existence,” Wagoner said.
WANT TO GO?
The Central Piedmont Livestock Show is on Face book. The show, on Orange Grove Road near the intersection of Dairy Land Road, begins at 1 p.m. with pigs being shown, followed by lambs at 3 p.m., and market steers at 6 p.m. On Thursday, the show begins at 8:45 a.m. with dairy goats, followed by feeder steers and meat goats in the afternoon.