By Justin Walker

Travel. Show. Repeat. That’s the life of many youth in Texas during the major stock show season, which begins in January and ended late last month. And county stock shows are still going strong throughout the year.

Sometimes folks don’t truly understand the importance of stock shows. We saw it in Houston when the stock show and rodeo was protested by people who were misinformed about agricultural practices.

Raising an animal teaches responsibility. It grooms the student for future careers in agriculture and other fields. Students also learn about genetics, feeding and livestock evaluation.

They learn time management. Students have to feed, water and work with the animal they choose to raise. Sometimes they take care of more than one animal.

Exhibitors also learn how to win, and lose, graciously. They make friends with other students from across the state.

Livestock shows are more than just chasing a banner and that grand champion title. It’s the experiences that truly make the project worthwhile. They learn about themselves.

You can’t put a price on that.

And there are many scholarship opportunities at the major shows. At Houston alone, there are 741 varying in eligibility, amount and type of degree. In 2017, the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo committed $11.5 million dollars in scholarships, grants, endowments, auctions, a calf scramble program and show premiums. Students from all walks of life can benefit from these scholarships, allowing them to further their education.

Even those not involved with agriculture can learn something at stock shows. There are educational aspects for children and adults. Different breeds of cattle, sheep and goats. Pigs. Dairy cattle. Milk production. Discussions with exhibitors. Each offers a look into Texas agriculture.

And although the major season may be over, county stock shows are picking up steam. Find one near you and meet the kids who continue to grow each year through the experience.

We have a great thing going here. Something that not only cultivates well-rounded individuals through hard work, but also promotes the future of Texas agriculture.

That’s something I can get behind.