The Alabama Farmers Federation Pork Division is helping youth bring home the bacon in scholarships.
In the last 10 years, Alabama Pork Producers awarded $25,000 to 32 young people pursuing higher education. The organization currently provides a $500 scholarship to the Premier Exhibitor of each age division at Kiwanis Club of Montgomery’s Alabama National Fair.
That prize money means a lot to students like Enterprise High School senior Paxton Peacock. He plans to attend Auburn University this fall with help from $3,500 won from the Alabama Pork Producers scholarship program. He’s a seven-time winner of the Premier Exhibitor Award at the Alabama National Fair.
“My parents are hard-working, middle class people,” Peacock said. “I see them get up and work hard every day for our family, and this money will help me get through school and fulfill my goal of working in medicine.”
Peacock said members of his family have shown livestock for 30 years, and the lessons he’s learned have prepared him for collegiate success.
“Coming home at 4 p.m., working, feeding and washing my animals, eating dinner and then doing homework has taught me time management,” he said. “Showing has taught me public speaking and leadership skills and introduced me to showmen from all around the country.”
Scholarships help benefit youth for years to come, said Alabama Farmers Federation Pork Division Director Guy Hall.
“We realize most students may not become hog farmers, but we believe in investing in youth who are responsible, hard-working and dedicated,” Hall said. “Hopefully these scholarships will encourage young people to continue their education after high school at a four-year college, technical school or community college.”
Scholarship recipient Kelly Goneke, an Auburn University senior from Conecuh County, said showing livestock helped provide a unique perspective in her major.
“I knew I wanted to be in the College of Agriculture, and with my love of math, biosystems engineering was a perfect fit,” she said. “I think raising and exhibiting livestock helped me deal with challenges in pursuing my degree, and it gives me experience with livestock that other engineering students may not have.”
Premier Exhibitor winners are determined by a scoring system managed by Alabama 4-H and FFA show officials based on exhibitors' scores on a written exam about swine knowledge, showmanship placing, highest placing of a hog and judging class performance.
For more information on Alabama youth hog shows, visit aces.edu or contact a county Alabama Cooperative Extension System coordinator.