Glen Rose High School freshman Aubrey Starnes has put in hundreds of hours of hard work with her animals in recent months, and the local 4-H president is hopeful that effort will pay dividends this month at the 57th Annual Somervell County Youth Fair.
Born in Fort Worth and raised in Glen Rose, Starnes will be showing two sheep and a steer.
“I started getting interested in 4-H in the third grade,” she said. “My dad had done it when he grew up, and I wanted to try it and see what it was like.”
Starnes has shown lambs, rabbits, chickens and this is her first year to show cattle.
“My greatest success was in junior high when I got first in my class showing a lamb,” she said. “This year I got reserve champion (lamb) at the (Dinosaur Valley) Jackpot Show here (in December).”
Starnes got her steer “Cappi” in June, while her lambs “Lazy” and “Tater Tot” entered the picture in late July.
“I work with my lambs about (90 minutes) each daily and then spend about three hours with my steer,” Starnes said. “There is a lot more that goes into showing a steer – you can’t just pull on them to go like you would with a lamb.”
Starnes trains her animals at her home southwest of Glen Rose. While lighting isn’t as good as it would be when training after dark at the GRHS Ag Barn, she appreciates being able to do it just a few yards from her house.
Starnes is optimistic about her chances at the county fair.
“I feel really good about my large lamb (Lazy), just because of how good I did with him at Jackpot,” she said. “I’d never had an animal do outstanding there before, so it gives me good hope for county. This will be my very first time to show a steer, so it’s kind of trial and error.
“My other lamb (Tater Tot) is really good; he got me third at the Jackpot. The only problem with him is he’s more difficult to set when I’m showing him; he doesn’t stay still.”
Starnes has definitely taken on additional responsibilities beyond showing her animals as 4-H president.
“I was the vice president for two years before becoming president and I wanted to see if I could take it to the next level and handle it,” she said. “(Vice president) Jared (Hammer) was the president last year and he’s really helped me this year. We’re having a little trouble getting people to come to meetings, because they think in 4-H and FFA you have to show. That isn’t the deal.
“We’ve gone through two (county extension) agents in about a year and we just got a new one, Shawn Davis. It has been tough getting used to one agent and having him leave. An extension agent is somewhat like a teacher for us.”
Starnes said she’s been able to take care of business as a freshman president because in 4-H age doesn’t matter when people see that she’s doing her officer duties well.
Even as she is a 4-H officer, Starnes is transitioning into FFA.
“This is my first year to show in FFA, and usually freshman year is when you move from 4-H to FFA,” she said. “It’s a step up from 4-H. 4-H is where you learn what you’re going to do in FFA, then FFA is when you really put it to work.”
In addition to her 4-H and academic duties, Starnes also competes in cross-country, track and softball, plus she’s a student trainer during football season.
“For me, it’s been my grades, then my lambs, then my extracurriculars,” she said.
Starnes knows there is always more to learn, but she understands what it takes to be successful in 4-H show competition.
“You definitely need to have good sportsmanship – never get down if you don’t win,” she said. “Get right back up because you’ll always have next year. Don’t get big-headed; I learned the hard way that you can’t predict what the judges will think.”
Whether or not she wins big with Cappi, Lazy and Tater Tot at the county fair, Starnes will heed her own advice and keep a smile on her face.
“What I enjoy most about FFA is being able to be with my friends, learn from other people and be able to meet new people,” she said.