Intending to pursue a degree in agribusiness or agricultural education, recent graduate Alicia Twehus lacks no familiarity with the benefits of agriculture.
A competitor in Tuesday's market hog show at the Jefferson City Jaycees Cole County Fair, Twehus has gleaned responsibility and "a lot of people skills" over the course of the three-month period of raising her two hogs.
Market hog show participants raise one or more hogs over the course of several months leading up to the show, Russellville High School agriculture instructor Jill Blankenship said. Participants' hogs must weigh over 230 pounds in order to place in the show.
Within their specific weight class, competitors marshal their hogs around an arena as a judge observes their hog for how well they move around the ring, she said.
The judge is also "looking at the loin and shoulder areas," envisioning the size of a ham that could be harvested from the individual hog, Blankenship said.
Around 60 participants from ages eight to 21 competed in last night's market hog show. Following the show, participants have the option of selling their pig at auction.
While Twehus enjoys caring for the hogs, she said the real climax of the experience occurs when her hogs are sold following the show.
"When you shake the buyer's hand, you know you did it at that point." Twehus said. "I like seeing them at the end and knowing it's something I did."
Though her father has occasionally assisted in her taking care of her hogs, Twehus largely learned about hogs on her own through the experience of caring for them.
"You do and learn at the same time," she said.
Echoing Twehus, sophomore Libby Mueller believes she reaps responsibility as a result of participating in the annual market hog show, she said.
Though she learns valuable lessons from raising the animals, Mueller also immensely enjoys the endeavor, she said.
"I enjoy it. I like raising them. There's fun in it," she said.
In addition to responsibility, Mueller also gleans a profit from her investment. With an initial investment of around $300, Mueller has, in the past, sold her hog for around $3/lb, which translated to a market price of $900, she said.
Though raising hogs constitutes an instructional endeavors for their caregivers, former agriculture teacher and father Keith Mueller contends that the market hog show provides an educational experience for both participants and spectators.
"It's an excellent learning experience for the kids in it and the other kids watching," he said.
Raising and selling hogs can also offer participants an authentic look at pork production and agribusiness, he said. "They can learn about animals and different cuts of meat and what buyers and people are using (of the hog)," he said.
For both competitors and observers, the hog show can provide undoubtedly provide entertainment, Mueller said.
"It's an exciting time for kids and people at the fair," he said.