BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Tessa Ludwig and Lily Raytis are both seniors at Garces Memorial High School. They like many others have been a part of the Future Farmers of America program, the FFA, for years and this one is their last.
17 News profiled both students at last year’s fair. We found them again participating in their final showing for the program.
“It’s very nerve racking especially it being my last year,” Lily Raytis said. “I’m having a lot of fun doing it. It’s very rewarding when you get in the ring.”
Now when Ludwig showed her cow something special — but unplanned — happened.
“Just now I was showing for market and my cow started calving in the ring,” Tessa Ludwig said. “That means she was giving birth. All dairy cows are pregnant when they come to the fair that’s how they produce milk.”
Raytis came in 7th place and Ludwig came in 14th. Lily’s father Dan Raytis says he’s extremely proud of his daughter and all the work she’s done raising animals for the last three years.
“It’s so great to see these kids rise to the occasion,” Dan said. “They put a ton of work into this. They’re out here in the morning at 6 a.m. and they’re out here at 10 p.m.”
The two girls gave some good advice for youth who are on the fence of about getting into FFA.
“Don’t be afraid of your animal,” Lily said. “They’ll love you as much as you love them.”
“Everyone’s usually intimidated when coming around these big animals but they’re actually really sweet,” Ludwig said. “They can sense if you’re nervous. Just go at them strong and you’ll have a lot of fun.”
Dan also gave some advice for other parents about what’s needed to raise and train a cow.
“It’s time, energy and money especially since they eat a lot,” Dan said. “The level of dedication it takes to train a big animal is so much different than a small.”
The shows at the fair are all meant as a way to sell off the animals they raised and trained for the last five months.
“Our community gives so to these kids and they do make a profit,” Dan said. “They do turn a profit at the end of the day. Our dairy industry has been great at supporting them.”
The kids usually use the money they make to invest in another animal for next year’s show or for college if it’s their senior year.