Emily McClendon is a Senior at Calallen High-School and was this years winner for the Nueces Record Star Essay Contest. McClendon has lived and breathed the 4-H culture from an early age. She's the second youngest of seven siblings and grew up watching her older siblings raise and show animals in the Nueces County Junior Livestock Show.

McClendon has raised a variety of different animals during her 4H career and chose to raise a pig named Berthalmew for her last year in high school. After high-school graduation she plans to attend Howard Payne Baptist University in Brownwood, Texas to pursue a nursing degree and follow in the same footsteps like her mother.

McClendon's essay: Experience of a Lifetime

From my first year to show in third grade to preparing for my last show my senior year, the past 10 years have flown by. The Nueces County Junior Livestock Show has truly impacted me through the years by allowing me to gain lifelong memories and learn lifelong lessons.

I have been involved in the livestock show since I was a baby. I am the second youngest of seven children and all my older siblings participated in the show long before me. My older brothers and sisters raised about every different show animal from turkeys to steers. They were involved in 4-H Ambassadors, the NCJLS Queens Contest, and the 4-H County Council. I aspired to follow in their steps.

In fact, over the past 10 years, I have been able to be a bit more active than my older siblings by following in their footsteps and by pushing myself a little more each year. Further, with each achievement, I have been able to gain memories that will stay with me forever.

My most enjoyable livestock show experience occurred during my fourth year of participation in the livestock show. My younger sister and I had been begging our parents to allow us to raise and show a steer just like our older sisters did. Finally, after almost two years of begging, my parents finally decided we had become responsible enough and gave in. We excitedly began saving up money for our steers by doing chores and by helping our parents clean up around the house in any way possible. After a few months of hard work, together, we earned about three hundred dollars. We never thought that would be enough. Providence would shine upon us and we were blessed to buy two orphaned, bottle-fed calves. Our cost; three hundred dollars, exactly. Over the next two years of raising our calves, we learned many life-long skills such as responsibility, time management, and teamwork. The bottle feeding was the most time consuming. We would wake up very early each day for bottles and feed. We had to do the same routine every morning and every evening. We gained a lot of skills in managing our time wisely because we would have to make sure we would wake up at the correct time and we would have to plan our days accordingly so we would have enough time for school and sports activities and evening feedings. My sister and I learned to work together as a team. We found out it is much faster and convenient to make bottles together; to carry bags of feed together; and to take turns when feeding. Eventually, the county show came around and it was time for us to show our steers and say our goodbyes. Although it was a very difficult goodbye, my sister and I enjoyed the memories we had made together and realized how much we enjoyed raising cattle. Afterwards, me and my sister started and began raising our own Lowline Angus herd. The process was rather unique. Raising and taking care of animals has taught me many skills such as giving shots, and pregnancy testing, and working animals. The experiences I have gained have pushed me to further my education and pursue a degree in the medical field.

The livestock show has impacted my life in so many ways and has allowed me to build stronger relationships with my siblings, gain life skills, and has even impacted my career choice. The Nueces County Junior Livestock Show has influenced my life in such a positive way. I will forever be thankful for the opportunities and memories it has given me.