By RACHAL PINKERTON
OTHELLO — Pigs, sheep, steers — The Whitaker children, of Moses Lake, are no strangers to these animals.
“I showed a steer for the first time,” Alyssa Whitaker, a senior at Moses Lake High School and the oldest of the three Whitaker children, said. “I worked so hard all year. Now I get to see what comes to fruition.”
For that hard work, Alyssa won Grand Champion in FFA Division 2 Fit and Show in beef.
Both Alyssa and her brother Kason showed steers at this year’s Othello Fair. Their sister Jenna showed a lamb. All three sold their animals.
“It’s all about the money,” Jenna, a sophomore at Moses Lake High School, said.
“They cost too much to keep, especially steers,” Kason added.
The siblings also showed at the Grant County Fair in August. Alyssa and Kason showed pigs, while Jenna showed another lamb.
Jenna hasn’t always showed sheep.
“The first two years I did pigs,” said Jenna. “My friends were showing sheep.”
Following her friends’ lead, she also started showing sheep. But she is thinking about making a change. In advance of next year, she is talking about showing a steer at the Grant County Fair. She has a plan on how she is going to use that steer to win and get her belt buckle.
For Kason, a seventh-grader, the fair is a chance to see friends, compete and is about getting his animals ready for showing.
“We get to see who’s better,” he said. “We’re competing in a friendly fashion to see who’s the best of the best.”
Kason had his struggles with getting his steer ready for the Othello Fair.
“He’d get a red look in his eyes,” Kason explained. “It was like he was saying, ‘Whatever you’re thinking about doing, don’t do it.’”
Alyssa noted that after a couple of days at the Othello Fair, the steer calmed down.
Alyssa started showing in third grade. As a senior, she now gets to help those younger than her, show them her animal and introduce them to agriculture.
“I’m seeing it come full circle,” Alyssa said. “I’m building relationships. These kids are the future of agriculture.”
After graduation in June, she is hoping to spend a year as a state FFA officer. From there, she intends to go into agriculture education and become an FFA advisor.
“Helping kids find their passion is something I love to do,” explained Alyssa. “FFA changed my life.”
Rachal Pinkerton may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.