Practice makes perfect, or pretty darn close.
After weeks of honing their presentation on dealing with the feral hog population, Brownwood High School’s ag issues forum team finished first at district competition Monday night in Hamilton. They’re competing this coming Monday night at area in Mineral Wells, and the top two finishers at area will advance to state.
The six team members are Mikaela Smith, Dalainy Garza, Aubrey Kirk, Emily Chapa, Ashlynn Paterson and Trinitee Skelton. The 10-minute presentation, which the students chose, is on the topic “are additional means needed to combat the plague of feral hogs?”
“It’s a big issue that we have here,” Patteson said. “They’re everywhere. They’re over-populated.” She said there are 2.6 million wild boars in Texas and 9 million in the nation.
“If you were to take a ride through the countryside in Brownwood, you could see all the fields torn up by all the hogs,” Chapa said. “What people don’t realize — they don’t see the hogs. They come out at night and destroy everything they see.”
Smith and Garza take the “pro” side. “We want to find more ways to get rid of them — using poison or more advanced trapping, stuff like that,” Smith said.
Patteson and Skelton are the “cons” side. “We want to use conventional ways like hunting and trapping and different things like that,” Skelton said.
Kirk serves as moderator, and Chapa is in a non-speaking technical role.
The five speakers memorized a script they wrote for themselves. “It’s a whole lot easier when you understand what you’re saying,” Smith said. “Since we have all this knowledge about it, it makes it a whole lot easier to remember what you’re saying.”
Patteson said she likes the confidence she’s gained in public speaking, something she previously feared.
During the competition, they present to judges who are ag teachers they’ve never met. “The judges are people we don’t know, and we get to be as open and bold as we can, so that’s what I like about it,” Patteson said.
Sometimes the judges show reaction, Chapa said. “If they’re interested, they’ll smile and laugh and try to give you interesting questions,” she said.
During the district competition, Garza said, “they were definitely interested in our topic.”
The judges know the issue of feral hogs, Kirk said. “Since it is a relatable topic, they ask us very interesting questions,” she said.
When asked if they’re looking forward to area competition, the team members replied nearly in unison: “Yes!”