Rodeo Austin Prioritizes Education by Funding Scholarships
By Madalynn Lambert
Reporting Texas TV
AUSTIN, Texas– Rodeo Austin kicked off Spring Break on March 13 when students from all over Texas competed to show animals, art and other forms of agriculture. All money raised from Rodeo Austin goes to Texas students through scholarships.
Many schools in Texas have an agriculture program that students can join to raise an animal for competition. Since 1981, Rodeo Austin’s scholarship program awarded over $8 million to more than 2,000 students.
“I think I will remember showing [the turkey] by myself and learning how to show it,” said Ashlyn West, a seventh grader in La Vernia Junior High School’s Future Farmers of America (FFA) program said. “It’s a learning experience for everybody, and it’s really hard for all the work going into it.”
More than 8,000 students entered this year’s competition. They began raising animals in November. FFA students across the state aim to make sure their animals are ready for judging.
“It’s really rewarding; feeling like I accomplished something. After a long six, seven weeks of waking up early and going to bed really late,” said Malorie Kveton, a Needville High School student.
The annual event relies heavily on volunteers to help organize and make this event possible. Shawn Johnson started volunteering when his kids were in school.
“I am here because of all the kids,” Johnson said. “My three children went through this and were involved. I want to give back and help the next generation.”
Students practice responsibility during the four months they raise their animals. Those skills transfer to life outside of the arena.
“For students this is such a great opportunity,” Johnson said. “It’s great to see little kids come in. When they win they are so alive with energy on this. It’s a great experience.”
After placing in an event, there is an online option for community members to give donations or “add-ons” to a student of their choice. This money goes toward scholarships to encourage students to continue their education and participate in future Rodeo Austin events.
“I feel like being at the Austin Rodeo has shown me how to communicate with other people and learn about what the outside world is, not just my county fair. It’s so much bigger than that.” said Jodi Kalinowski, a Needville High School student.
Aside from the Livestock Show, Rodeo Austin is an opportunity to embrace Texas traditions. A wide variety of activities include carnival rides and foods, concerts, and a petting zoo.
“I think the best part is seeing the families together and being with the livestock and introducing our son that doesn’t get to see this stuff everyday,” Jey Ditta said. “We really love coming out here and experiencing that.”
Rodeo Austin will continue through Saturday, March 25 with events including the Youth Auction, Livestock Judging Contest, and the Gold Stirrup Horse Show.