MERCEDES — Rebecca stood inside the pig pen with “Piglet,” her competition pig. Looking at her and making sure she was well rested. Before competition begins, students have to make sure the pig is groomed and clean. A spray bottle is used to spray water and give it the shine that the judges can see during the competition.
That morning, the 12-year old was representing the Edinburg High School Future Farmers of America and was among those competing last week in the Market Swine division at the Rio Grande Valley Livestock show that took place last week in Mercedes.
To prepare for a competition the student works the animal up to three times during the week.
“We try to bond with the animal as much as we can,” said Justin Martinez who is a senior in Edinburg High and Rebecca’s older brother. “So they can get to know you and you can know how to work together.”
The 6th grader is part of the junior program at Edinburg High because her older brother, Justin, is a member of the FFA program. Only younger brothers and sisters of existing members are allowed to be in the program.
The Edinburg school district provides all of the Edinburg high schools the opportunity to house their animals at the agriculture farm located on Schunior Road. Students can keep cattle, hogs, goats and sheep in the farm.
“It allows students to appreciate where our food supply comes from,” said Javier Ponce, the Agriculture teacher for Edinburg High School. “A lot of our students live in the city and don’t realize what it is like to raise a livestock project and this gives them the opportunity,” he said.
Ponce said with this program, students are taught responsibility and housekeeping. Students have to feed the animals twice a day and said he knows when the animals have not been fed.
“This is something that will stick with them for the rest of their lives, when you have to do something and be responsible about doing it,” he said.