ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Students from six different school districts and the Taylor County 4-H Club competed in the 2022 Taylor County Livestock Show at the Taylor County Expo Center.

Contestants, ranging from the third grade up to high school seniors, showcased their prized animals, as well as all of the time and energy they’ve poured into caring for them.

When you walk into the Taylor County Agrilife Extension Office during the livestock show, you’ll see feathers getting ruffled, as prized chickens are judged on how much meat they have.

At the show, you would find Abilene High Senior, Fernanda Berumen, 17, choosing between the 7 to 10 chickens she brought to show. However, Berumen’s story of joining FFA at Abilene High is unlike the rest.

“I recently quit volleyball which is why I joined FFA,” Berumen said.

Berumen said she felt “on the outside” when she was on the volleyball court, so she left the volleyball court for FFA as soon as she got the opportunity, and found a deep-rooted support group there.

KTAB/KRBC: Fernanda Berumen, 17, smiling as she shows chickens at Taylor County Livestock show, Jan. 2022

“If you would’ve asked freshman year Fernanda if she was going to be showing chickens her senior year, she would have told you, ‘you are absolutely out of your mind,’” Berumen thought back.

Four years into her work with FFA, she fell in love with livestock shows, and plans to pursue a career in agriculture, once she gets to college. She says she is looking at Texas A&M and Tarleton to pursue a degree in Animal Science, more specifically poultry science.

Fernanda’s story took her from the court to the chicken coop, but when you walk across the facility to the livestock barn, you would see 10-year old Tucker Clyburn, who grew up watching cattle events.

The Merkel native said he had been interested in rodeo since he was a little kid, but with parental guidance, got into livestock shows. He said at times, getting in front of a judge in a small arena can be intimidating, but you will be just fine, so long as you have these three things:

“Your heart, your heart goes into it,” Tucker advised. “Your passion, your heart and courage.” 

Tucker quickly said afterwards, receiving coolers, cups and a shiny new belt buckle also ease the nerves at the end of the day.

Tucker showed off his local championship belt buckle, one with a base of blue paint and floral patterns, that twinkled every time it hit the light.

Tucker Clyburn’s 2021 Merkel FFA Championship Belt Buckle

In the stall to Tucker’s left, Wylie Junior High student and FFA member, Carson Stone, 13, worked on his show cows, not breaking an ear-to-ear smile the entire time.

KTAB/KRBC: 3 contestants help out, holding up 3 chickens at the 2022 Taylor County Livestock Show, Jan. 2022

Earlier in the day, Carson helped with the chicken judging- holding up contestants’ chickens when they were being judged in threes.

Carson chimed, “I’m not a chicken expert, but I was just doing it to help out.”

His bread and butter is the cattle show, which Carson said at an early age, isn’t easy. But, it is something he actively loves to do, and it’s something he’s done since he was eight, and won’t be stopping anytime soon.

“I’m very passionate about it,” Carson said. “We work pretty hard at it. I go out to the barn everyday; wash them and feed them, morning and night.” 

His favorite part: being with his friends outside of school, excused of course, and seeing his hard work pay off- even if there are some strings attached.

“One downside is, you’ve got to catch up on a lot of work. But, I mean, it’s totally worth it,” Carson cheered.

When contestants win, they receive funds that usually go to college scholarships. For the farm-to-table chickens, though, they’ll be auctioned off and the winner can do what they wish with that money.

For anyone interested in attending, the Livestock Show will continue through Friday evening with a live auction happening Saturday evening, beginning at 5:30 p.m.