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Tomball students show off their raising skills at 43rd FFA show

January 27, 2019

The 43rd Tomball ISD FFA Show held Jan. 24 through Jan. 26 at Tomball High School, featured student-raised pigs and steers and goats, oh my!

While raising her Hamshire pig, Tomball Memorial High School senior Karen Sears, 18, said she fed her just about everything, except chocolate and meat.

“I give her honey buns. I give her pancakes. I gave her stuffing, vegetables, green beans. All that. Everything,” she said.

Students from TMSH and Tomball High School can sign up to raise rabbits, chickens, turkeys, pigs, lambs, goats and steers for about four months each year.

Beginning in September, Sears would start her mornings at 5:30 a.m. to feed and walk the pig, which she named Chanel, as well as clean out her pen in the agriculture barn on campus.

Twice a week, Sears also had to bathe her, which wasn’t difficult because Chanel enjoyed the water.

The challenging part was drying her.

“She doesn’t like towels, though, so it was hard to dry her without her freezing,” she said.

Chanel initially weighed about 63 pounds, eventually weighing 273 pounds for the show, earning Sears sixth place.

Sears said when she was young, her aunt and uncle would take her to FFA shows where they had raised animals as part of their school project.

“I basically grew up around pigs,” she said.

Her family encouraged her to participate during her freshman year and to continue if she liked it the first time.

In the end, she ended up raising animals all four years.

As a pitcher on the varsity baseball team and competing in golf, Sears’ classmate, Tyler Rich, 18, said he became interested in raising his own pig during his junior year.

“Karen got me into this,” he said after Sears told him it would be too challenging for him.

Now a senior at Tomball Memorial High School, Rich said he understands how much hard work goes into raising animals.

After four months of raising his pig, which he named Coco, he earned fifth place in his class.

“I definitely did better this year than last year. I thought it was a good learning opportunity,” he said.

Ashley King, 16, a junior at Tomball Memorial High School, said she became attached to the pig she raised, which she named Knox.

She said Knox would be very excited by the two daily visits she made to care for her.

“I love her personality. She’s just always happy,” King said.

As the show wraps up on Saturday, she said that being separated from Knox made her sad.

While the animals are judged on their muscle, fat and showmanship, students who participate in FFA should spend as much time with the animals they’re raising, Sears said.

“Don’t take it for granted,” Sears said.

mayra.cruz@chron.com

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