Local FFA members catch calves in Fort Worth scramble

Five Wise County FFA members were among the calf scramble winners at the 2015 Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo.

The calf scramble, which allows 16 students to compete at 28 of the 29 rodeo performances, has eight winners each performance. The young people are high school students out to catch and halter a calf with hopes of winning a $500 purchase certificate that will help buy a registered beef or dairy heifer for a yearlong 4-H or FFA project. Winners must return for the 2016 Stock Show to exhibit it in the Junior Heifer Show.

Local winners included Hunter Tallon and Huston Myers, Alvord FFA; Kyle Barnett, Decatur FFA; and Blaine Gibson and Kaitlyn Gibson, Paradise FFA.

In all, 224 youngsters caught calves during the 2015 Stock Show.

All entries receive a special T-shirt with their contestant number. Participants who fail to catch a calf receive a certificate for a pair of Justin boots.

Hunter Tallon


Kyle Barnett


Blaine Gibson


Huston Myers


Kaitlyn Gibson


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FFA chapter holds first show in new project center

The Decatur FFA held its first Chapter Show in the program’s new Agricultural Science Project Center Saturday.

Successful Show

SUCCESSFUL SHOW – Decatur FFA had its first Chapter Show Saturday at the new Agricultural Science Project Center. Some who participated included (front row, from left) Holden Hacker, Lauryn Luttrull, Shelby Drews, Lyndi Luttrull, Trey Wadlington, Ridge Reynolds, Mara Botani, Kelsey Blase, Hayden Bennett, (back row, from left) Morgan Sarchet, Madison McCrary, Sheila McCollum, Senor Terry Stewart, athletic director Mike Fuller, Pattie Reynolds, Mary Ellen Quade, Lonny Drews, Jarrett Blessing and Alex Samano. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Results are as follows:


Grand Champion – Morgan Sarchet
Reserve Champion – Shay DuBois
Champion Showman – Alex Samano
Reserve Champion Showman – Shay DuBois


Grand Champion – Shelby Drews
Reserve Champion – Coltin Baur
Champion Showman – Shelby Drews
Reserve Champion Showman – Coltin Baur


Grand Champion – Kaitlin Lane
Reserve Champion – Hayden Bennett
Champion Showman – Hayden Bennett
Reserve Champion Showman – Kaitlin Lane


Grand Champion – Ridge Reynolds
Reserve Champion – Shelby Drews
Champion Showman – Shelby Drews
Reserve Champion Showman – Kyle Drews


Grand Champion – Morgan Sarchet
Reserve Champion – Alex Samano
Champion Showman – Alex Samano
Reserve Champion Showman – Morgan Sarchet
Celebrity Showmanship Contest

Members of Decatur FFA chose the contestants for the Celebrity Showmanship Contest. Each contestant had an FFA member “coach,” who trained the contestant on how to show a pig. Contestants included Coach Mike Fuller, Lonny Drews, Jarrett Blessing, Senor Terry Stewart, Mary Ellen Quade, Sheila McCollum and Pattie Reynolds.

McCollum won the banner and honors of the contest.

Awards included banners, trophies and buckles, which were paid for by sponsors. Sponsors included Rod Townsend, McCollum, Todd Parks, Rodney Elmore and Mickey McMaster.

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New ag center provides upgrades for growing program

New ag center provides upgrades for growing program

Decatur High School agriculture students may have a new place to house their animals, but calling it an ag barn would be selling it short.

Ready for the Show

READY FOR THE SHOW – Ridge Reynolds exercises his pig in the enclosed arena inside the Decatur FFA agricultural science project center. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

The new Decatur FFA agricultural science project center has already become a source of pride among not only the ag teachers at the school but also the students.

“Every time I come up here, people are sweeping up and trying to take care of it,” said ag student Ridge Reynolds. “People are coming up here with their friends who have pigs also because they enjoy it up here. It’s one of the nicest facilities I’ve seen.”

The need for the facility was evident more than a year ago as a growing student population in the ag department naturally led to more animal projects. Many of those animals needed to be housed at the school’s ag barn, but it was full. To make room, many pens held two animals rather than one.

“That’s hard on the exhibitor and on the animal, too,” said ag teacher Meghan Woodall.

Last year, the school board approved building a new, larger facility. Construction began last summer, and pigs moved into the new building Jan. 9.

And not a moment too soon, because the facility hosted a pig camp the next day. Once the show was over, students were hard at work moving even more pigs into the facility. As of Wednesday, 48 pigs were enjoying their new home.

While that might sound like a lot, the building can house even more and still not feel crowded, ag teachers say.

Pigs may be the current occupants, but other kinds of animals could also be housed in the new facility.

In addition to the extra space, the facility features a show arena that is totally enclosed, meaning students can work with their animals in any weather condition.

“What I like the most about being in this facility, the kids want to be up here more, and I’m able to see them in action,” Woodall said. “Before, sometimes they were coming at times when I wasn’t here at school. … They are all out here together, and that’s important for these pigs, too, because in a show environment, they are going to be walking in the arena with several different pigs, so I think it will be good for them to work on their showmanship skills.”

Other improved features include a ventilation system and a watering system that creates far less mess for the students to clean up in their animals’ pens.

The facility also includes a room to store feed, another room where students can bathe and clip their animals, a room that will soon house lockers where students can keep their “barn clothes,” a storage area for stock show material and a classroom that can be used for meetings and could eventually be used by a fourth ag teacher if the program continues to grow as it has in recent years. That portion of the building is still being finished, but Woodall said she hopes the building is totally complete within a couple of weeks.

The pig camp held earlier this month was the first opportunity for the public to see the new facility, and Woodall said the reaction was positive.

“I had a few parents ask me, ‘How do you get something like this?'” she said. “I told them you have to have the community support, and you have to have the administrative support. And when you are working together for the common goal for these kids, that’s when it fits, and it fit for us,” she said.


The public’s next chance to see the new facility as well as the students and animals in the Decatur ag program is at the Decatur FFA Chapter Show Saturday, Feb. 7. The show will include heifers, lambs, goats, steers and pigs and is open to all members of Decatur FFA.

Registration is 9 to 9:30 a.m. (weight cards due by 9:30), and the show starts at 10. Cost is $10 per entry. Showmanship will be followed by the respective species show, as well as a celebrity showmanship contest.

Call Jim Allsup, 940-393-7286; Joey Brooke, 940-393-7297; or Woodall, 940-393-7285, for information.

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Show, benefit planned Jan. 10

Paradise will be a busy place Saturday, Jan. 10.

That morning, the Paradise Project Show will be held at the elementary cafeteria while the Paradise 4-H and FFA Livestock Show unspools at the Project Barn.

After a showmanship clinic in the afternoon, a steak dinner and bingo benefit are planned in the evening at the high school cafeteria.

All proceeds from the events go to the Paradise Buyers Association, to be used to purchase animals that go to the sale at the Wise County Youth Fair.

Food and crafts will be displayed and judged in the elementary cafeteria Saturday morning. All crafts, baked goods and photography should be brought in by 9 a.m. – the back doors will open at 8 a.m. for delivery.

Judging begins at 9:15 and projects can be viewed starting at 10:15.

The cafeteria will be locked and all projects must be out by 11:30.

The Grand and Reserve Champion food winners will be auctioned off during the project show that evening.

Also on Saturday morning, animals will be shown at the Project Barn with weigh-in starting at 7:30 a.m. and ending at 9:30 a.m.

The show begins promptly at 10 a.m. with the order tentatively set as:

  • Rabbits
  • Chickens
  • Beef Heifers
  • Heifer showmanship
  • Prospect Steers
  • Market Steers
  • Steer showmanship
  • Longhorns
  • Longhorn showmanship
  • Breeding Swine
  • Market Swine
  • Swine Market
  • Market Lambs
  • Lamb showmanship
  • Market Goats
  • Goat showmanship

That afternoon from 2 to 4, Paradise Ag Supporters will host a showmanship clinic for goats and lambs, for anyone who wants to learn more about showing those animals.

In the evening, a steak dinner and bingo game will be held beginning at 5:30 p.m. in the Paradise High School Cafeteria.

The ticket, $20 at the door, gets the bearer a steak, baked potato, beans, dinner roll, dessert and tea. Bingo will be played from 6-9 and a cake auction during the bingo will feature cakes made by some of the best cooks in Wise County.

The showmanship winners from the morning’s livestock show will be announced and receive their prizes during the evening festivities.

All proceeds go to the Buyers Association, a non-profit organization set up to help students from Paradise who make the sale at the Wise County Youth Fair.

Anyone with buyers association questions may contact Robin Meadows at (940)393-1903.

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FFA teams dominate district LDE meet

Decatur’s FFA chapter took seven firsts and three seconds to capture overall sweepstakes honors at the District 1 Leadership Development Event (LDE) Contest, held Nov. 17 at Bridgeport.

Chapter Conducting Team

CHAPTER CONDUCTING TEAM – The Senior Chapter Conducting team placed first at the District 1 Leadership Development Event Contest Nov. 17. Pictured are (front row, from left) Michael Hicks, Cody Holaway, Seth Sirman, Carter Hakansan, (back row) agriculutural science teacher Joey Brooke, Carolyn Spear, Lyndi Luttrull, Morgan Sarchet, Michaela Cross and Ramey Walther. Submitted photo

DHS students participated in 13 different events at the contest, qualifying for Are V LDE Competition in 10 of them.

After that contest, held Nov. 22 in Sherman, Decatur’s Senior Quiz Team emerged as a state qualifier and competed Friday in Huntsville.

Each event focuses on creating situations for members to demonstrate their abilities in public speaking, decision making, communication and their knowledge of agriculture and the FFA organization.

At district, Decatur’s Senior Chapter Conducting team – Michaela Cross, Carter Hakansan, Cody Holaway, Lyndi Luttrull, Morgan Sarchet, Seth Sirman, Carolyn Spear and Ramey Walther – placed first.

Seth Byers took first in the Job Interview contest, and also participated in the Senior Creed Speaking contest, placing eighth.

Lauryn Luttrull brought home first in the Junior Creed Speaking contest, and the Senior Quiz team of Gavin Buchannon, Michaela Cross, Michael Hicks and Trenton Lane won top honors in their event.

The Junior Quiz Team of Jacey Harris, Morgan Lamance, Sam Perkins and Scott Steiner also placed first, as did the Radio Broadcasting team – Kelsey Blase, Lyndi Luttrull and Chance Walther – and the Agriculture Advocacy Team of Savannah Carper, Kylie Cole and Annika Wissmann.

The Junior Chapter Conducting team of Kyle Drews, Holden Hacker, Austin Howell, Sydney Jeffrey, Thaine Laaser, Morgan Lamance and Lauryn Luttrull placed second, as did the Agricultural Issues team of Shelby Drews, Marissa Ledford, Maci Morton, Carson Read and Katarina Scoma.

Also earning second-place was the Public Relations team of Madison Bourgeois, Caroline Cowdery and Brittany Roberts.

The Senior Skills team, including Gavin Buchannon, Luke Cobb, Alex Samano, Anna Sherwood, Cole Stallard and Zachary Valdez, finished fifth, as did the Junior Skills team, with Maribel Camacho, Kyle Drews, Holden Hacker, Isaac Hacker and Alec Uselton.

At area, students compete on the same teams as district. In addition to the Senior Quiz Team qualifying for state, Michaela Cross of the Senior Quiz team and Morgan Lamance of the Junior Quiz team were high-point individuals in their contests.

Decatur’s Junior Quiz and Radio Broadcasting teams both took third at Area; the Junior Chapter Conducting finished fourth; Agricultural Issues took fifth; Senior Chapter Conducting was sixth; the Agriculture Advocacy and Public Relations teams finished eighth; and the Job Interview team was 10th.

Texas FFA is one of the nation’s largest state FFA Associations with more than 106,000 members in 1,045 chapters. FFA contests give students the opportunity to apply practical knowledge to real-world experiences in local, state and national contests.

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FFA fields another national champ

The Decatur FFA chapter has brought home another national championship.

Seven students – Kat Scoma, Chance Walther, Ramey Walther, Carter Hackanson, Michaela Cross, Trenton Lane and Lyndi Luttrull – recently attended the 2014 National FFA Convention and Expo in Louisville, Ken. The Chapter Quiz team made up of Cross, Lane and Ramey Walther placed third as a team in the National FFA Quiz Contest, and Cross was the high-point individual in the nation after answering 92 of the 100 questions correctly.

They Know Their Stuff

THEY KNOW THEIR STUFF – The Decatur FFA Chapter Quiz Team, which includes (from left) Michaela Cross, Ramey Walther and Trenton Lane, placed third at a recent national competition. Cross was the high-point individual. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

The written exam tests the students’ knowledge of the 200-page FFA manual, which includes the history and policies of the national organization.

Decatur FFA sponsor and ag teacher Jim Allsup said Cross was far and away the top student in the contest.

“They said she blew the top off it,” he said. “She eats, breathes and sleeps the FFA manual. … I think the closest person to her had 80 correct.”

Cross, a senior, was second-high individual on the team that placed fifth at last year’s national competition.

Asked how many times she’s read through the manual, Cross said, “On the way up there, I probably read it five times just for this contest. You’d think I’d be able to recite it by now.”

Lane and Walther, both sophomores, competed in the senior division for the first time.

With other chapters from all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands attending, the convention was a unique experience.

“It opens your eyes,” Lane said. “You get to meet people from all over the United States, so it’s a great opportunity to meet all different kinds of people because it is definitely different than just Texas.”

“It would be cool because you’d be walking and suddenly there would be someone from North Dakota right in front of you,” Walther added.

Even the 14 hours on the road provided a great opportunity for the students to get to know each other better, Cross said. The trip up included a stop in Nashville, Tenn.

Decatur FFA was also named a 3-Star Chapter, the highest award a chapter can receive, which places it in the top 1 percent of all chapters in the nation. Allsup said Decatur FFA has received the award in the past but, “it’s been a few years.”

In order to achieve the 3-Star status, Allsup said a chapter must fill out a lengthy application outlining activities from the previous year.

“You’ve got to explain to (the judges) how your chapter, your students and your community are a better place because of our activities and what we do,” he said. “We submit pictures and information on what we do throughout the year. That application actually starts at the district level, then area, state and then national.”

Five former students – Paris Walther, Summer Miller, Shelbie Chandler, Brittney Hubbard and Hannah Hubbard – were presented with the American Farmer Degree, the highest individual degree a member can achieve.

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Decatur FFA collects awards at state convention

Several Decatur High School students attended the 86th annual Texas FFA State Convention July 14-17 in Fort Worth. FFA members attending included Kelsey Blase, Seth Byers, Michaela Cross, Carter Hackanson, Michael Hicks, Cody Holloway, Trenton Lane, Lyndi Luttrull, Alex Samano, Katarina Scoma, Chance Walther and Ramey Walther.

Successful Program

SUCCESSFUL PROGRAM – Decatur FFA members brought home numerous awards from the 86th annual Texas FFA State Convention July 14-17 in Fort Worth. Submitted photo

The chapter received numerous awards recognizing the entire group as well as several individual members. The Decatur FFA chapter received the prestigious Golden Horizons award, which is only bestowed upon the top 10 percent of FFA chapters in Texas.

Since the completion of the convention, all award applications and records were sent to National FFA for consideration. Decatur FFA received the National Chapter Rating, 3 Stars, which is the highest rating a chapter can receive on the national level. These awards recognized the chapter for their activities and efforts in student development, chapter development and community development.

Cayla Cotten, Michaela Cross, Shelby Drews, Ty Green, Katherine Rowden and Chance Walther received their Lone Star FFA Degree. The Lone Star FFA degree is the highest degree bestowed by the Texas FFA.

The Lone Star FFA Degree recognizes FFA members who have received their Chapter degree, been active FFA members for at least two years, completed at least four semesters of agricultural science at or above the ninth grade level, maintained a supervised agricultural experience program, demonstrated their leadership skills and showed a commitment to FFA through involvement at the chapter level and above.

Decatur FFA member, Paris Walther, won the Agriculture Communications Proficiency Award. The Proficiency Awards program encourages members to set personal goals and learn practical skills. The program provides recognition to FFA members for exceptional accomplishments and excellence in their Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) program.

Chance Walther received the Washington D.C. Leadership Conference Scholarship. Walther was presented with a full scholarship that allowed him to attend the Washington D.C. Leadership conference as a delegate representing Texas.

Lyndi Luttrull placed 7th in the Texas FFA Prepared Public Speaking Contest. To qualify for the state competition, Luttrull advanced through one of the 57 district competitions in the state and one of the 10 area competitions.

Shelby Chandler, Paris Walther, Brittney Hubbard, Hannah Hubbard and Summer Miller were named candidates for the American FFA Degree and will be awarded these degrees at the 87th annual National FFA Convention in Louisville, Ky. The American FFA Degree is the highest degree awarded by the National FFA Organization. It is the top degree in a four-tier program that recognizes individual achievement in instructional programs, supervised experience and leadership development.

Jim Allsup, Decatur High School agriculture science teacher, received his 25-year tenure award at the Vocational Agricultural Science Teachers Professional Development Conference. Tenure awards are a benefit of the VATAT and are given in five-year increments to agriculture science teachers and associate members of the association who have dedicated themselves to teaching and supporting agricultural science.

After wrapping up a successful 2013-2014 school year, the Decatur FFA program is looking ahead and planning for an even better year in 2014-2015.

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Chico FFA takes Fort Worth by storm

This year Chico FFA and Jr. FFA members placed better than ever at the 2014 Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo.

Making History

MAKING HISTORY – Chico FFA and Junior FFA members were honored with the Herdsman Award, which is given to the team that best embraces the fundamentals and rules of animal care and showmanship. Submitted photo

Not only did they place within the top 10 of their classes, but they also won the Herdsman Award. The Herdsman Award is given to the team who best embraces the fundamentals of animal care and adheres to the rules and regulations of the show. Show officials said it was the best display of herdsmanship they had seen in many, many years.

The weekend of the junior heifer show, Chico FFA and Jr. FFA excelled. Beefmaster heifers placed in their classes as follows: Macie Moss, second; Hagen Davis, third; Garon Davis, fourth; China Brattis, fourth; Brianna Martin, fifth; Amber Huff, sixth; Matti Umphress, seventh; Katie Tate, seventh; Hunter Garcia, seventh; Nick Hood, seventh; Devon Wilson, 10th; and Taylor Hood, 12th.

Red Angus heifers placed as follows: Emily McDaniel, fourth; and Macy McDaniel, fourth.

Santa Gertrudis heifers placed as follows: Jimmy Schuetz, second; Kenyon Hedrick, third; Will Jones, fourth; Austin Collins, fifth; Katie Jones, sixth; and Calli Gordon, eighth.

Other kids exhibiting Santa Gertrudis included McKayla Hedrick, Kayla Clampitt, Chance Kittrell, Cody Caraway, Elliott Mercer and Stephanie Beard.

Chico FFA is led by ag science teachers Shane Hedrick and Tyler Raley.

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