FFA doubles prior year's earnings

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Kilgore FFA students saw the difference one year can make with the program’s annual auction, earning nearly twice as much as last year’s sales.

In total, not including add-ons, the buyers spent more than $67,000, compared to last year’s $35,000. With the live auction and silent auction added, though, the total is closer to about $71,000, Kilgore FFA teacher Kristin Pieper said, noting there was more than $6,000 worth of add-ons for the projects.

The largest sale of the night was Griffin Beddingfield’s plasma table at $20,000.

The table, painted Kilgore Bulldog red, finished first in its class at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo last month and was named the grand champion project at the Kilgore FFA Show Saturday for metal ag mechanics projects.

Kilgore High School sophomore Reed Presley’s hay dolly, which was awarded a blue ribbon at RodeoHouston, was named reserve grand champion at Saturday’s show and sold for $1,300.

Two other RodeoHouston ag mechanics pieces that were given blue ribbons – a hay feeder by Luke Gilley and a three-point utility hook-up by Walker Langley and Daisy Vega – also sold during the auction.

Jackson Hatcher created a serving bar out of recycled material found on his family’s land and received a grand champion designation on his project in the ag mechanics wood division. The project sold for $3,800 to Gilbert Lopez.

Daisy Vega built the reserve grand champion ag mechanics wood project with an Adirondack cooler set, which sold for $1,000 to Cole Davis.

Students loaded in their projects Friday night and Saturday morning before judges looked at the Kilgore FFA students’ projects selected their grand champion, reserve champion and third place finishers for each animal and ag mechanics project in metal and wood.

Once the judging concluded, all the projects being sold by the students were presented during the evening’s auction, preceded by a barbecue dinner. Pieper was pleased to see new buyers attending the sale this year, she said. It is the students’ responsibility to find a buyer for their project, and Pieper gave the students and parents credit for their work.

“This was probably one of the best sales that I’ve had since I’ve been teaching at Kilgore,” she said. “Everybody was very pleased with everything.”

Pieper had prepared for a hectic week leading up to the show with RodeoHouston ending March 26 before the local show and sale April 1.

“We rolled right out of Houston and right into the project show, just full force… Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday clipping animals and getting projects ready,” she said. To make sure the students were just as successful as they were in Houston, Pieper noted both she and ag mechanics teacher Travis Orms spent many hours with the students helping them complete and prepare their projects. “We got it done and everything was ready to go.”

Pieper, whose daughter presented the grand champion pig Saturday, was happy to include the Junior FFA program students this year.

Instead of the two programs being separated between younger students and high school students, they were all together in the judging and auction. The only time they were divided was when judging showmanship.

“That’s our future,” Pieper said about the Junior FFA students’ participation. “If we want to continue to grow in a program and continue to get students to join FFA and see what FFA is about, we’ve got to start with the younger kids.”

Both younger and high school age students did well throughout the day, and Pieper said, she hopes the success or competition helps to push the students to try to improve next year.

Some people had commented on the caliber of animals and projects the students presented this year, noting the increased quality over the past few years.

“I think the kids put forth a lot of hard work this year with their animals,” she said. “I can say a big thank you to the buyers for making those kids finish out the year with a big success.

Pieper’s favorite part about the show and sale is seeing the students succeed and for their hard work to pay off.

Although the students do earn money off of their projects, she said, “It’s not about making money; it’s about the experience and what they’ve learned from it. Seeing those kids be successful and seeing those kids have a good experience, that’s what it’s all about, and as long as a kid is having fun doing it and having a good experience, I feel like I’ve done my job.”

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