Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

For some teens, the livestock is the life of the fair

BROOKSVILLE — For the past five months, Samantha Pankow, Margo Stewart and Samantha Browning have spent their early mornings in heavy rubber boots and aprons for the daily ritual: tending to their pigs.

For most teenagers, cleaning pens, filling feed troughs and trimming hooves may be seem like intolerable tasks. But for the trio of Hernando High School seniors, the work is essential toward their goal of bringing home top honors at the Hernando County Fair and Youth Livestock Show.

"Other than the smell and the sweat and having to deal with animals that don't want to cooperate, it's not so bad," Pankow said with a laugh. "I guess no one does this without knowing what they're getting into."

For the 150 or so Hernando County kids involved in agricultural-based exhibits, the livestock barns are the real bustling centers of activity at the fair.

Many, like Pankow, Stewart and Browning, will spend almost every waking hour there during the fair. Some will even sleep at the fairgrounds to make sure their animals are preened and ready for the judges.

Browning and Stewart are both veterans of the swine-raising game. Stewart, an honor student planning to study veterinary medicine and biology in college, has exhibited for three years at the fair. Browning, also an honor student, earned top prize for showmanship at last year's fair.

A rookie, Pankow says her peers have provided solid guidance.

"They've been great," Pankow said. "We've become good friends, and that helps. We know we can rely on each other."

That's been true ever since November, with the purchase of the 16 baby Yorkshire-Hampshire crossbreed pigs that weighed a little less than 10 pounds each. Since then, members of the Brooksville FFA chapter have assumed every aspect of their raising, including twice-a-day feedings, periodic worming and tending to any wounds that might detract from value at auction.

Stewart, who estimates she has spent more than $400 in the care and feeding of her pig, said any profit from the sale of her animal will go toward her college fund.

Hernando High agricultural science teacher Rick Ahrens laments that visitors walking through the livestock barn rarely consider what goes into raising the animals.

"It demonstrates a tremendous amount of discipline and dedication," Ahrens said. "It's probably one of the best learning experiences these kids will ever have."

Logan Neill can be reached at or (352) 848-1435.

By the Numbers

150 or so Hernando County kids involved in agricultural-based exhibits

$400 Amount teen Margo Stewart estimates she has spent to feed and care for her pig. She plans to put any profit from its sale toward college.

150 or so Hernando County kids involved in agricultural-based exhibits

$400 Amount teen Margo Stewart estimates she has spent to feed and care for her pig. She plans to put any profit from its sail toward college.

For some teens, the livestock is the life of the fair 04/05/08 [Last modified: Saturday, April 5, 2008 2:32pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Missouri governor halts man's execution after DNA questions


    ST. LOUIS — Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens halted Tuesday's scheduled execution of condemned killer Marcellus Williams after DNA raised questions about his guilt.

    This February 2014 photo provided by the Missouri Department of Corrections shows death row inmate Marcellus Williams. [Missouri Department of Corrections via AP]
  2. Suspect in robbery of Brandon woman, 86, has been arrested more than 40 times


    BRANDON — One spring day in 2012, Marcus Wayne Hunt walked out the of Orient Road jail a free man after posting bail on a charge of fleeing from police and driving without a license

    This surveillance photo shows Marcus Hunt, 28, pointing a gun at an 86-year-old woman as she unloaded groceries from her car parked at her Brandon home on Monday, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. Hunt fled in the Toyota Corolla and was arrested shortly after midnight Tuesday. 
[Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  3. Killings put spotlight on possible neo-Nazi threat


    TAMPA — The friendship of the four young roommates — though cemented in the dark trappings of an obscure neo-Nazi group called Atomwaffen Division — never seemed destined for bloodshed.

    This undated photo provided by Kianna Kaizer, shows  Jeremy Himmelman and his girlfriend Kianna Kaizer. Himmelman was fatally shot along with his friend Andrew Oneschuk, 18, by a roommate in the Tampa apartment the men all shared.  [AP photo]
  4. Fire at Wesley Chapel home leads to discovery of marijuana plants


    WESLEY CHAPEL — A fire that broke out Monday at a Wesley Chapel home led to the discovery of a room with marijuana plants, the Pasco Sheriff's Office said.

  5. Kriseman gets 2nd police union endorsement


    Mayor Rick Kriseman is already backed by the city's largest police union, the Suncoast Police Benevolent Association.

    Mayor Rick Kriseman has secured another police union endorsement