Fifteen Miami-Dade County Public Schools students and their young steers appeared Nov. 21 for the first weigh-in of animals that will be raised, shown and sold at auction during the 2016 Miami-Dade County Fair and Exposition, which runs from Mar. 17 to Apr. 10.
The weigh-in took place at William H. Turner Technical Arts High School, one of four Miami-Dade County Public Schools (MDCPS) that offer agriculture and agribusiness courses to middle and high school students.
The Youth Fair works with MDCPS to offer students the opportunity to raise an animal for six months for a course grade — and an experience of a lifetime. The MDCPS program in conjunction with The Youth Fair educates students on agriculture, business management, finances and marketing.
The Youth Fair stepped up this year to provide advance funding to purchase steers, lambs and hogs, and pay for their feed and care as school budgets were cut. The animals will be sold at the Youth Fair’s student auction and proceeds will reimburse the Youth Fair. Whatever money is left over goes directly into the students’ pockets, so their goal is to market their efforts and bring multiple bidders to the auction to help drive up the final price. For the first time, the students will be learning digital marketing to advance their “agriculture business.”
The steer weigh-in was followed by seminars that instructed the students on everything from showmanship to how to promote their “product” through the use of digital marketing.
More than teaching the students how to properly care for an animal, the agricultural program educates participants about responsibility, finances and business management. With agriculture as Florida’s second- largest industry, these students are the future of the business. Eighty percent of students enrolled in agricultural programs go on to pursue careers in veterinary science, instruction and positions with the state Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.