Santa Fe High School senior and FFA member Catherine Bowman has been involved with the Alachua County Youth Fair and Livestock Show for seven years. At Tuesday’s market sale, her Grand Champion goat sold for $12 a pound.
GAINESVILLE – Some high school students work after school to raise money for college. Others seek help from relatives – near and far.
Catherine Bowman, senior at Santa Fe High School, shows and sells her livestock animals at the Alachua County Youth Fair and Livestock Show. During the market sale on Tuesday, her Grand Champion goat sold for $12 a pound.
At 94 pounds, her college savings will get quite a boost. Last time she showed a goat, in 2009, it sold for $5.75 a pound.
Bowman has been involved in the Youth Fair for seven years, and her resume is pretty impressive: State Star Green Hand Finalist, National Conventions and more.
“I’m excited about my future,” Bowman said, “and my past agriculture and livestock experience through the FFA.”
Mike Anderson, President of the Alachua County Youth Fair and Livestock Show, believes the fair teaches children and young adults how to market themselves.
“It teaches them responsibility,” he said. “They have to take on an animal and raise it until it goes to the market.”
This year, the fair celebrates its 30th annual event. During the market sale, there was an estimated 114 animals involved. The animals present were meat animals only; the breeder animals had already been taken home.
Each year, the fair brings together 4-H and FFA youth in the community, allowing them an opportunity to demonstrate the dedication they put into raising their animals. Each youth is required to keep a record book on his or her animal. The book tracks the weight of the animal, the amount of feed it is given and time the youth spends with his or her animal.
Wendy Mathis, Santa Fe High School FFA member, said the project allows her to see aspects of livestock production firsthand. If she raises market animals, she said she gets to see the business aspect of production. But if she raises animals intended for breeding, she gets to see the reproduction side.
“I like animals,” said Ben Rhymes, FFA member and owner of a bluebutt hog. “It’s fun to raise them and watch how much they grow.”
Last year, he sold his pig for approximately $900.
Younger children can participate by showcasing their chickens or rabbits. For the first time, the fair auctioned off plants. The first plant to sell was two containers of African marigolds. They sold for $80. Anderson said showcasing the plants allows students who are unable to purchase or own livestock to participate.
“About everything that can be done in the agriculture industry is shown here this weekend,” Anderson said, referring to the five-day event. In addition to animals, that includes an eco-art contest, a power of wind workshop and cookie bake-off.
Emily Eubanks, of the Alachua County Farm Bureau, said the children at the fair are learning about self-motivation.
The Grand Champion steer sold for $4 a pound, which Eubanks said is the highest she can remember a steer selling for in a while. The Grand Champion hog sold for the same amount.
“These businesses are out here supporting our kids today,” Eubanks said. “I don’t know if it’s a reflection of the economy so much as it is a reflection that they believe in these kids.”
Each purchase by a business is tax deductible.
Kimberly Hall, a 16-year-old Santa Fe High School student and FFA member, has participated in the fair for three years. She works with goats because she feels they are easier to work with than the steers or hogs.
“I love it,” she said.