Brock High School student Conner Cowdrey has been showing and raising animals since he was 4-years-old and is now passing on his showmanship skills to others in Parker County.
“I started when I was 4 showing my first Red Angus heifer at the Fort Worth Stock Show. My whole family started raising beef cattle and registered Red Angus and we showed Red Angus cattle from Kansas to here and all around,” Cowdrey said. “When I was 12 we sold the cattle and got into show goats and started raising them and were very successful. In about 2014-15 we started raising Dorper sheep and since then we’ve been extremely successful with our Dorper sheep and have been all across the state and country. That’s what we mainly show now and as a family that’s what we raise.”
Cowdrey will be a junior at BHS next school year and is a Parker County 4-H ambassador as well as the Brock FFA district vice president and an officer.
“I’ve been in 4-H since I was 8 and could actually become a member, but I just go in FFA my freshman year and I’ve met more friends through 4-H and FFA than I would have anywhere else,” Cowdrey said. “I’ve made lifelong connections and have been around some of the greatest role models and leaders that I could have ever imagined. It has taught me great leadership and social skills, so it’s really helped me to basically become a better person overall.”
The 70th annual Parker County Livestock Improvement Association Stock Show will take place from June 10-14 at the Parker County Sheriff’s Posse and Cowdrey will be showing two lambs, a steer and three pigs.
“This is only my second year for pigs, but I really enjoy it and have learned so much about pigs that I never would have without showing them. I kind of took a break from cows from when I was 12 until this year, and I’ve got a steer again,” Cowdrey said.
Through Parker County 4-H, Conner as well as other members have been teaching showmanship clinics to help younger and more inexperienced exhibitors.
“I use to have these professionals come in for the clinics and that can be very intimidating for both my 4-H members and their parents, so we found that by using older youth in our program, it’s more palatable for the families — it’s easier for them and they’re more comfortable just because they’re familiar with these young people,” County 4-H Youth Development Agent Kayla Neill said. “Conner and some other kids who show in major livestock show come and provide some basic information that the kids could take home and work on to help get ready. We’re firm believers in that you don’t win the day of the show. You earn your ribbon from the work you put in prior to the day of the show, and that’s one of the approaches we take.”
Cowdrey said he felt like he wanted to give back to others and that’s why he got involved in the clinics.
“When I was little I always had great mentors that were always there any time and so I feel like I owe it to the younger kids in the community — Brock FFA and Parker County 4-H — to put on a showmanship clinic,” Cowdrey said. “We try to do it several times a year and help younger 4-H members as well as older 4-H members that need to brush up on their showmanship skills or need advice about their animal. We also give them advice and tips on how to feed their animals and just improve.”
Cowdrey said he’s been preparing himself for this year’s show, but is excited to see the success his student 4-H and FFA members have.
“I always tell people it’s more than just getting ready the day of the show. You have to go out to the barn and spend hours a week working with those animals and making sure they’re trained property for the show and keep them fed and looking good all the time. Before the show it’s just making sure they look their best and that they’re in tip top shape on show day, and just compete the best you can,” Cowdrey said. “Hopefully I can do a good job, I’ve been working hard on my animals, but more than seeing myself succeed, I would rather see all the younger kids I’ve helped succeed and do the best they can. I’ve won buckles and banners and I want to see those younger kids have the thrill of getting to do that.”
Neill said the PCLIA Stock Show is a tradition and everyone looks forward to it.
“It’s a fun week and it gives everybody the opportunity to showcase their skills and abilities, and their love for agriculture, which is huge. We’re becoming so urban that it’s very important to show the impact agriculture has on our community, as well as our young people,” Neill said. “We would love the community to come out. There are so many ways that people can get involved and help support the kids by either purchasing animals at the sale or, if they can’t purchase an animal, they can make a donation to the buyers pool and that also helps support the young people.”
For more information about the stock show visit www.parkercountystockshow.com.