Last week, Kathy Judkins, SECO Energy’s Deputy Director for Civic, Charitable and Government Affairs, purchased one steer and three swine at the Marion County Southeastern Youth Fair at the Ocala Live Stock Pavilion.
Each year, hundreds of students glean from the exposure they’ve received from participating in the youth fair. They learn how to care for their animals which is very evident when they step into the auction’s area seeking the highest bid from buyers. Besides seeking the highest bid, the students gain something greater – work ethic, finance and business management skills.
As a buyer representing SECO, Judkins purchased a steer from Riley Thoresen, a junior at Belleview High School, who showed a steer for Wild n’ Country 4-H Club that weighed in at 937 pounds. Riley plans to use her profits from the sale to continue saving for college where she hopes to become a behavioral analyst.
Later in the week, Judkins purchased two pigs from Dunnellon High School Future Farmers of America (FFA). Christen Adams’ pig weighed 252 pounds and Barry Duncan’s pig weighed 225 pounds. A third pig was purchased from Cassidy Clarke, a SECO member and a senior at Belleview High School, who showed a 236-pound pig for the Wild n’ Country 4-H Club. Fighting back tears, Clarke stated, “I’ve been showing pigs for twelve consecutive years, and I’m going to miss it. This year’s swine auction will help me with my college funding. My love for animals will continue because I’ve been accepted into Abraham Baldwin Agriculture College in Tifton Georgia where I plan to major in Pre-Professional Biology and then transfer to a Veterinary Science Program.”
Judkins stated, “The youth fair gives students an introduction to agriculture and animals that they may never receive otherwise. For decades, SECO continues to be a proud supporter of the students in rural agriculture programs. From an educational standpoint, these students are learning valuable skills that will prepare them for remarkable careers.”
CEO Jim Duncan stated, “SECO’s participation in youth livestock programs in the counties we serve also helps the cooperative identify and encourage students whose homes are served by SECO to apply for the scholarship program. This year, SECO will award twelve $3,000 scholarships to high school seniors enrolling in a Florida institute of higher learning. Academic achievement, financial need and other factors are considered by the judges, but participation in 4-H or FFA gives students added points. I encourage these students to visit our website and apply today because the submission deadline is March 30.”