"Please be mindful that we have a show going on and give the animals the right-of-way as the head to the arena," blared over the loud speaker.

At that time, Lindsey Dube and her brother Cooper, both students at Thrall High School, looked at their watches and realized they still had a few minutes to eat before preparing for the show.

"It's a complete lifestyle commitment," Lindsey said. "You have to invest time, energy and money into buying quality animals, working with the animals and make sure you aren't taking shortcuts in how they are raised."

Cooper said it is important to feed the animals well and have a good feed program.

Lindsey said a typical day begins before the sun comes up with feeding. She said the feed has to be mixed according to a ration based on protein percentages and feed to gain ratios. Then it's off to school.

"When we come home we have to walk them, wash them, condition their skin, give them exercise, give them their nightly feeding and make sure their pens are clean," she said.

Lindsey, now a senior, said she has been working with show animals since she was 5 years old. Cooper, a sophomore, has been working with show animals since he was in the third grade. Lindsey said there is an attachment to the animals to a certain extent, and it is gratifying once the show comes to an end.

"It's always nice to win a banner, rosette or a buckle, but at the end of the day, those get dusty on the shelf somewhere. All the time I spent in the barn with my family and everything I've learned throughout the process is really what's going to matter," Lindsey said. "But, it is nice to be awarded for all the hard work you put in."

However, most of the animals they show are breeding guilds, so the animals go back to the breeders and the students get the children to raise the following year.

"The joys and discomforts of agriculture life, you just have to take it in stride," Lindsey said.

The Dubes did not just decide to become Ag students, it was in their DNA. Their mother, Michelle, grew up as an Ag student and their father, Travis, was an Ag teacher for many years.

"We don't vacation a bunch, we don't take cruises, we don't play little league or ballet, we stock show," Mr. Dube said. "We try to balance it with other things. But a lot of time, resources and financial resources go towards this."

He said both Lindsey and Cooper have money saved up for college because of shows, and there are possibilities for scholarships in the future.

Mr. Dube said in sports, parents are spectators, but in Ag life, they are heavily involved.

"When we put our work clothes and work boots on to go the barn, the whole family goes. We all work together on those Sunday afternoons and late nights to prepare for this," he said. "Parents have to be all in on this in the livestock show world."

"It is definitely a family affair," Mrs. Dube said.

Just one chute over, Kellen Kincaide, a junior at Thrall High School, was with his younger brother JW waiting to head to the arena for the show. Kincaide agreed that it is not just hobby, but a lifestyle to raise show animals.

Now in his third year, Kincaide has made a commitment to the agriculture lifestyle.

"This is something that is my passion," he said. "You're whole day revolves around your animal. If it doesn't, your animal will not do as well and won't be as healthy as is should be."

While he is committed, he juggles playing basketball, baseball and raising his animals.

"The pig comes first," he said. "We've been working for it for a long time . . . and it's a living breathing animal so I take care of it to make sure it is staying alive and healthy."

He said he already missed a few games this season, but will have other opportunities to play.

"I know the animal comes first, but if I had to choose between starting to raise an animal and playing sports, that'd be a tough decision I don't think I'd be able to make," he said.

While making sure his own animal is taken care of, Kincaid makes sure JW is on the right track in his first year.

"It's pretty fun and a lot of hard work," JW said. "[Kellen] helps me a lot. He tells me how to control my pig, mix the feed and how to get him used to stuff."

Their mother, Nicole Kincaide, said the responsibility is not just on the students, but the parents also.

"It's extremely gratifying when your animal wins," she said. "You're teaching [the students] they are raising livestock . . . whether you win lose or draw, it's about your attitude."

The Williamson County Livestock Show was back in Taylor at Williamson County Expo Center this week. Students from all over the county came to show their animals, and many walked away with awards and ribbons.

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