Agricultural Science Students Gain Experience and Passion at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo

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By: Caitlin Powers

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo provides students with great opportunities through not only scholarships but internships as well. Agricultural Science students interned with the Show as  judge’s assistants for the Agricultural Mechanics Show in March.

“This is a very valuable learning experience for someone considering a career in agricultural education-especially someone interested in teaching agricultural mechanics,” sophomore agricultural science major, Ian Sprouse said.

The Agricultural Mechanics Show provides Texas 4-H and FFA members with an opportunity to display their constructed agricultural mechanics projects. Projects range from gooseneck trailers, and tractor restoration, to livestock and agricultural machinery equipment.

“As an intern, you get to see the behind the scenes of judging that not many educators get to experience,” Sprouse said.

As a judge’s assistant, students are actively involved in the show by assisting in contest set up, judging the projects, and interacting with 4-H and FFA students and agricultural science teachers.

Sprouse said you have the opportunity to see to how judges evaluate projects, what kind of questions they ask exhibitors, and what they look for when judging. ALEC graduate student, Heather Boyt, said she now understands how an agricultural mechanics show works and what the judges are looking for.

“I believe I have gained skills to assist my future students with agricultural mechanics projects and help prepare them for shows,” Boyt said.

Lauren Metcalf, sophomore agricultural science major, said it was interesting to be able to see the results of what she has been learning in the classroom.

“I was glad I was able to apply the knowledge I learned in my teaching agricultural mechanics class to an experience that I might be in one day,” Metcalf said.

Paul Wunderlich, ALEC graduate student, said the internship made him more comfortable interacting and speaking with students.  He said it opened his eyes to how diverse 4-H and FFA students are.

“Many of the students at the agricultural mechanics show are only members of FFA because of their involvement in the construction of their [agricultural mechanics] projects,” Wunderlich said.

Metcalf said she was impressed by the students’ passion and talent. By speaking to the students and seeing the kind of projects they made, Metcalf said she was able to see the caliber of craftsmanship and talent the students possessed.

All of the interns, walked away with a better understanding of a role they may have in their future career but most importantly with an increased passion for being an agricultural science teacher.

“I was so inspired and surprised by many of the students at the show,” Boyt said. “They showed me the reason why I want to become an agricultural science teacher.”

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