Sun up to sun down: Junior competes, reflects on FFA season


Rusty Joe Gonzales

Binder open, junior Molly Baugher pours over her notes before the Poultry CDE competition. “After high school I want to major in Animal Science,” Baugher said. “This contest helps take what we learn in class and apply it to skills we need for our careers.” The state competition was Tuesday April 28 at Texas A&M University.

As the sun comes up, junior Molly Baugher feeds her pig at the show barn before heading to school. For Baugher and other FFA members, show season, which typically lasts from September through February, early mornings with late nights are a daily routine. But the work doesn’t begin or end there. She also showed pigs, chickens and a plant.

Baugher represented Prosper’s FFA chapter as a part of poultry judging, a Career Development Event competition, which started earlier this spring. After winning both area and district competitions, Baugher earned her and her team a spot at the state competition, which was held on Tuesday, April 28, at Texas A&M University, where results are still waiting to be announced. After encouragement from her dad and upperclassman friends, she joined FFA her freshman year. As her junior year comes to a close, Baugher reflects on what FFA means to her.

Molly is extremely friendly and outgoing in the barn and during shows, in the barn especially she lets people borrow her equipment and supplies. Outside of the barn I think she is a very calm and funny person, she is definitely somebody who works hard but is also very practical and can take time to hang out with her friends and relax.

— Lauren Helbling

“FFA is a character developer,” Baugher said. “You meet so many amazing people that will affect your life forever. It helps build a family and gives so many opportunities to see which career path works for you.”

In the showing season, members will go to any and all shows they can enter, whether it be small Jackpot shows spread through the state and bordering states to prepare for actual stock shows, or shows such as the Collin County Livestock Show, the State Fair of Texas and even major shows like the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and Rodeo Austin. During these shows, students walk their animals around an arena, guiding them to highlight their best features in front of a panel of judges.

“Showing animals is a great experience I feel like everyone should experience at least once in their life,” Baugher said, “It teaches us responsibility and time management, and it also gives us leadership skills by strong work ethic.”

During show season, members balance more than just schoolwork, but also a social life, jobs and taking care of live animals.

“Every day I’ll wake up in the morning, go to the barn to clean pens and feed and make sure my animal there will be fine for the school day,” Baugher said. “This year, since I did so many projects, I had to come back home, take care of my chickens and rabbits, and make sure my plant was watered. When I finish school, I go back to the barn, where I clean pens again, and I walk my animals and then make sure they’re fine for throughout the night.”

I have her in two class periods back-to-back, so I spend most of the day with her, and then I spend time with her outside of school as far as her show animals go. I got to know her as a person, and I got to see how hard she actually works on all the different projects she does outside of school.

— Joe Molina

With activities such as this outside of school hours, FFA students have said that they sometimes have a hard time dealing with the stress, but Baugher said that’s where she gives credit to her agriculture teachers.

“It can be really stressful, but that’s when we have our amazing agriculture teachers who come in, and they understand when it comes to school,” Baugher said. “But, they also push you to an extent, so you get better. They can push you to be the best version of you. Honestly, I just try not to overthink things when I get stressed out, and that’s what normally works for me.”

Even if it may cause stress at times, Baugher said she continues to reflect positively on FFA and the lessons she learned through it.

“FFA also teaches you responsibility through raising your livestock and keeping up with them,” Baugher said. “It teaches you leadership skills where you learn how to handle certain decisions and keep people uplifted while doing it.”