Born a Champion

FFA students kick off competition season at Fort Bend Fair Week

Celeste Hoover, Co-Editor

It’s a hot Texas afternoon in Rosenberg, September 29th, as Chuleta lines up at the gate alongside her fellow competitors. Chuleta was born to compete, she’s been training for this day her entire life. She lets out a soft grunt, focusing just on putting one leg in front of the others. Chuleta knew the judges, she knew the ring, and she knew how to win. She just didn’t quite know how to keep her snout out of the handler’s treat bag.

Chuleta, a prize winning show pig, earned 3rd place at the Future Farmers of America (FFA) livestock contest at last week’s Fort Bend County Fair. Her handler, junior FFA Officer Bella Torres, couldn’t have been prouder.

“The beginning is very stressful,” Torres said. “Because you have to always be watching your pig, you have to walk it, you have to be ready. But once you have your show gear and you’re getting ready to show, you forget about everything. You’re just ready to be judged and ready to show them. It all really depends on the judge. It’s a little weird, but some judges like the big butt. They want the head to be high up, but not too high up. Their back has to be straight with their head. Some like long necks or short necks, and of course the muscles on them. I’m just happy we placed at all.”

This is Torres’ third year in FFA, and the Fort Bend fair is just one of the many organization’s extracurricular activities she participates in. A committed livestock raiser and competitor, Torres is up before dawn year-round to care for her animals.

“I’m never home, and that’s only because of FFA,” Torres said. “I wake up around 4:30, leave the house around 5:40, pick up my friend, and head straight there. Even in the summer, you have to be there no later than 9:00 in the morning. The hardest part is when they’re [the animals] are used to you already, and they know you have the feed, they’ll go after you because they’re so hungry. My pig learned how to pick me up off the ground, she went between my legs and just lifted me up.”

When Torres heard about FFA from friends, she knew immediately it’s what she wanted to do in highschool. Caring for animals and competing with them for scholarship opportunities sounded like the best of both worlds.

“It’s definitely a process of getting to know them,” Torres said. “Once you get a bond with them, they’ll have a personality with you. My pig would only walk for me. It’s hard for showings, but we get them when they’re small, and now my pig is around 250. So you do bond with them when they’re younger, it’s just easier showing them when they’re younger, because when they get older they’re a little more stubborn.”

Torres plans to continue her FFA path her senior year and into college, where can compete with new animals and meet new people.

“I think all the FFA hours are worth it,” Torres said. “You get to meet new people, and it helps you grow as a person. Because honestly, at the beginning of freshman year, I was super shy. I didn’t want to talk to anyone. But now it’s my junior year, and I talk to everyone. All that time you spend at FFA makes you a better person. That’s why I do it, for the animals, to meet new people, and to grow as a person, to make me better.”