Want to learn about life?
It might be best to start with a goat.
An FFA veteran of the Pontotoc Spring Livestock Show at the AgriPlex, Wyatt Shaw from Byng, has been showing his livestock for the last four years.
Soon, he'll be moving up to the big show in Stillwater as a freshman ag major at Oklahoma State.
With no family ag genes to fall back on, the former "city slicker" from Ada seemed to stumble into a career when he decided to give 4H and then FFA a try.
In a few months, he'll be putting together bigger plans for his future, and he said his parents are behind him all the way.
Wyatt is not only the president of the FFA in Byng, he's also president of the senior class.
With him on Friday was Cody Mills, a first-year FFA student who seems to be following Wyatt's lead, but mostly the 14-year-old eighth-grader is following in the footsteps of his older brother, Lane. A former ag student in Byng, Lane is now 19 and in the process of joining the U.S. Army, his younger brother said Friday morning.
Nothing new about farm life for Cody.
"I've grown up with it," says Cody. "I always looked up to Lane," he said. He got into roping for a short period of time, but now he's focusing on his goats.
The two Byng students may be perfect bookends for the school's ag program.
Wyatt, who has always been an active kid in school events, struggled to find his own niche until he decided to give FFA a try.
"I had no background in agriculture," he said. "I was into art."
He soon discovered his talents weren't in art and that he liked being outdoors.
"It was the best decision I've ever made," he said. "Without the FFA, I wouldn't be the person I am. I've always been active, but nothing seemed to click. I never found my home. This is my home in all aspects of life.
"FFA has helped me polish my skills," he said. "Everyone needs a little FFA in their lives."
Wyatt believes the FFA holds its members to high standards, providing an opportunity for students to learn premier leadership qualities.
If he doesn't become an ag teacher, he'd like to be someone who travels as an advocate for agriculture.
He has twin brothers, Trenton and Trevor, who are 16 and are also involved in FFA.
He said he wants to work on not taking things so personal, when he was asked about what he thought was his own biggest weaknesses. "I take things to heart way too much," he said. "I have to keep an open mind.
He said FFA and 4H kids are taught to have proper respect for animals in their care. They learn where their food comes from and what goes on in raising livestock.
He said he has learned about some of the fun activities in FFA, like the Ag Olympics, where they have hay bale-tossing contests, egg tosses and pie-eating contests.
Cody said those activities are all designed to help kids bond and find a place where they're judged by how hard they work, not how many I-machines they may have.
Cody started in 4-H and learned to raise goats and horses. "You learn to treat them like family,' he said.
Being in ag, both have learned to start small busnesses and nurture them into eventually profitable businesses through the Spring Livestock Show, thanks to contributions from local business people who want to see the kids succeed.
Both kids are becoming accomplished public speakers. They know how to look an adult in the eyes and put together sentences that actually make sense.
Wyatt said a lot iof people in the community support their efforts. He said the most money he's made was on the cheapest goat he has ever purchased. It's about preparation and learning the needs and differences in their goats.
In other words, it's all about learning to cope with life in what will increasingly become a more complicated world.