Members of the South Effingham High School FFA have been traveling to Honey Ridge to train cattle to show in the fair and to be pals for students from Bethesda.
SEHS FFA adviser Mose Mock said the program began approximately 10 years ago when the FFA needed cows to show, and Bethesda had cows and needed mentors.
Mock said for the first several years the SEHS students traveled to Savannah to work with the cattle. Then Sam Zemurray at Honey Ridge Plantation offered to house the cattle there while students worked with them.
The SEHS students have been spending class time learning to work with the cattle, and prepare for the cattle competition at the fair.
The students said they have gained different things from the experience.
Faith Shreve said she chose cattle because she doesn’t like pigs.
“I’ve learned how to be more patient,” she said of her experience with the cattle. “You have to be patient with them.”
Thomas Longworth said working with his cow was harder than he expected.
“I didn’t think I’d like it,” he said. “Now I look forward to coming out every day.”
Crystal Howard said her cow loves her, and she has enjoyed working with the boys from Bethesda.
“They really seem to like it,” Howard said. “It’s something new for them.”
Shreve said it had been fun teaching someone else something she had just learned. Longworth said the experience has placed extra responsibility on him, and it has helped him learn.
Mock said the largest portion of students showing cattle from SEHS were working with the cattle owned by Bethesda. He said some students are working with cows owned by other farmers or their parents.
“They start late summer breaking and brushing them,” Mock said, “working to make them more docile.”
Mock said the students work on setting up the cattle, and the proper technique to use while showing them in the ring.
“A good showman will walk and work with the cow every day,” Mock said.
He said a good showman also will bond with the cow.
During the cattle show, Bill McIlrath of Bethesda thanked the community for allowing them to be a part of this.
“This is probably one of the finest groups we’ve had,” he said.