Phoebe Rogers

One of my favorite quotes comes from the movie Forrest Gump, “Life’s like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get!” It was a hot July evening and the sun was starting to ascend when I heard my dad yell from inside the trailer, “Phoebe, get the gate!” I tried my hardest but couldn’t manage to get to the gate fast enough. The next thing I knew, a small red-belted gilt was flying out of the back of the trailer and taking off down the driveway. After she ran underneath horses and through barb wire fences, and after an attempt at trying to rope her from my dad, my mom finally caught her. I remember my mom and I yelling at my dad to come quick, but he was still in shock that my mom had caught this crazy pig. Needless to say, after we went through this wild goose chase, we decided to name her “Goose”.

My name is Phoebe Rogers, and I am the 18-year-old daughter of Justin and Shawna Rogers. I am a recent graduate of Newcastle High School in Newcastle, Texas, and formerly from Amber-Pocasset, Oklahoma. My family and I operate Rogers Livestock, where we raise cattle and show pigs. At an early age, I learned the value in working hard for the things you want.

The agriculture industry has played a huge role in my life. Being a fifth-generation cattle producer, as well as a third-generation pork producer, livestock has always had a special place in my heart. My parents both grew up showing livestock, and it only seemed fitting that I carried on the tradition. My first time to step foot in the ring was at five years old. I had a Berkshire gilt named Sally, and although I really had no clue what was going on, I enjoyed it anyway. As I got older, I took more of an interest in showing. When I was old enough to start showing in 4-H, my dad and grandpa, Don Rogers, decided to start our sow herd back up after a few years gap. We naturally started with a few Berkshire females like my dad did as a kid.

My first major show was the Oklahoma Youth Expo in 2010. In our first set of litters we raised a Berkshire barrow that I called “Domination”. After winning my class, I ended up being the first alternate Berkshire barrow, which was an accomplishment since only five Berkshire barrows make the premium sale at OYE out of nearly 200. The next year was déjà vu, I ended up having the same results: a first place Berkshire barrow that ended up first alternate in the sale line-up. During my third year of showing at the OYE, I had a third place Berkshire barrow, and was extremely fortunate to exhibit the Bronze/third overall commercial gilt from Darby Valley Genetics that sold for $8,500 and I received an OYE Scholarship.

Starting in 2013, I took on a new showing adventure, showing sheep, more specifically a Dorper. My Papa, Preston Faris, was kind enough to raise a lamb that I named “Kobe” and we didn’t see eye-to-eye. It didn’t help that I was the worst sheep showman to walk the planet at that point. I took Kobe to the Oklahoma Youth Expo, where he was the Reserve Champion Hair Sheep, but I was so distraught over how bad the season had been that I never wanted to show another lamb. If you would have asked me how much I had enjoyed that year, I would have told you what my uncle, Brandon Faris, always says, “Not too much!” I was content with showing pigs that year after having a first place heavy weight Berkshire barrow that finally made the premium sale at OYE,. Another highlight that year was having the Reserve Grand Champion at the Team Purebred Southwest Regional with another Berkshire barrow we raised.

However, my parents weren’t going to let me give up on something that I had already started. I was fortunate again to get to show some more lambs from my grandpa. Every day after school, my parents and I would go to the lamb pen and work with my sheep. It took many hours of practice, and through blood sweat and tears fortunately my showmanship skills were starting to improve. It was very rewarding when I took one of my lambs to the Tulsa State Fair and he was the Reserve Breed Champion Hair Sheep.

At this point in my life, I was enjoying showing more than ever. I had made numerous friends over the past years, and it was so much fun to go to a show and be able to visit with people from all over the state. Some of the most fun that I had showing happened when we went to the T&D Meats jackpot shows in Oklahoma. One of the company owners also served as ring help, and if you’ve ever met him, it’s hard to forget Daryl. Every Breed Champion received a hoodie, and I can recall numerous times when Daryl would run toward me, screaming and wrap the hoodie around my neck then prance me around the ring. Although it was quite embarrassing at the time, it’s memories like these that I will remember for the rest of my life.

In the spring of 2014, I was fortunate to show a couple Dorper lambs I called “Spaz” and “Marble” at Oklahoma Youth Expo and ended up having both the Breed Champion and Reserve Breed Champion Hair Sheep, granting me rights to ride in the limo during the OYE Grand Drive of all species. While I thought it was pure luck at the time, I’ve come to realize that my successes have come from the Lord above and I am so blessed. Without Him, none of this would have been possible. Over the next few years, I was fortunate enough in 2015 to carry on my fortunate success with another Breed Champion Hair Sheep and limo ride at OYE, as well as other high placing lambs.

On the show pig side, I had the fourth overall Hampshire barrow at the Tulsa State Fair, the Grand Champion barrow at the 2014 Team Purebred Southwest Regional and a commercial gilt that sold for $13,500 at the Oklahoma Youth Expo Gilt Sale.

The spring of my sophomore year, my parents told me that we were moving to Texas. I was excited about the opportunities that I would have the chance to experience, but I was also sad to be leaving my friends and family. However, it turns out that moving south was one of the best things for me. I had so many doors opened for me that would never have happened if we hadn’t moved. Although I didn’t have nearly as many stock show friends, I still enjoyed going to shows. Texas majors were certainly different than the two in Oklahoma, but I was still blessed with great success. In my last two years of showing, I made premium sale money at every Texas major show in the spring. In 2017, I exhibited the second heavy Spotted barrow at San Antonio, the third-place cross in the heaviest middle weight division at Austin and a fourth place Dorper lamb at San Angelo. During the 2018 show season, I had a first place Cross gilt at Fort Worth and the Champion Chester White barrow at the Arizona National Livestock Show. As I look back on my show career, I am very thankful to all of the family, friends and breeders that have helped me to exhibit success in the show ring.

One of my fondest memories comes from when I was around eight years old, and it was the first time I was allowed to assist with farrowing a sow. She was one of our Berkshire sows, named “Lucy”. My dad and grandpa had been watching her all day, and when the time finally came for her to give birth, I was there to help. I remember being ecstatic to see the process because up until that point, I had only seen pigs as newborns and I had never been present for a live birth. Every time Lucy would have a pig, I would climb into the crate, clean the pig off and help it find its way to nurse. Over the years, I have helped with farrowing numerous sows, but my very first time with Lucy will always be a vivid memory. While I usually dread having to watch sows in the middle of the night, pulling pigs and standing in the crate to make sure a sow doesn’t lay on a pig, I have come to realize what a beautiful process this can be. I am very grateful to be allowed the opportunity to raise animals, and I have learned to never take it for granted.

Along with showing and raising livestock, I have also been very actively involved in many areas of 4-H and FFA. Through FFA, I have competed in Parliamentary Procedure and Public Speaking. Through speaking, I have been first place in District for 4 years in a row. I also placed fifth in the state my sophomore year. While in Oklahoma, I also was a member of the 2015 Reserve State Champion Junior Parliamentary Procedure Team and the 2016 State Champion Junior Parliamentary Procedure Team. My senior year of high school, I served as the Newcastle, Texas FFA Chapter President.

With my dad as my county extension agent in Texas, I have also been very active in 4-H. Through these years, I have participated on a state-qualifying Food Challenge team, as well as a state-qualifying Beef Quiz Bowl Team. Through public speaking in 4-H, I was the Reserve State Champion in 2018. My favorite team activity is Livestock Judging. I started judging livestock at the same time that I started showing competitively and I was awful. My very first contest ever was swine day at the Big 3 Field Days at Oklahoma State University. I had a couple decent marks, but after that, I did terrible. I was making sixteens or seventeens on classes, or not even marking the scantron at all!

Livestock Judging was something that my dad and both grandpas had competed in collegiately and my dad encouraged me to carry on the family tradition. After my first contest, my dad and I started practicing. At every show, farm, ranch or even just driving down the road, we would evaluate animals. Every chance we had was an opportunity to learn more. At every contest, my scores were improving little by little. We were also practicing sets of oral reasons and working terms as often as we could. I remember my very first time to ever give a set of reasons was around the age of seven. My dad and I were driving to my grandparents’ house and he had me memorize part of a set to give to my grandpa. I remember jumping out of the truck, running inside, and rambling off parts of a set. While I’m sure it was comical to listen to, it was a start.

Around the age of fifteen was when everything started to “click”. My sets of reasons were starting to take shape and flow as I continued to learn to evaluate livestock. I was fortunate to start to get my name called in contests, and that drove me to want to be the best that I could be. It was during this time that I learned the more time and focus I put into livestock judging, the more it made sense to me and helped me to improve. By my junior and senior years in high school, the time put in over the years and our hard work as a team at Young County 4-H was starting to pay off. I was blessed to tie for high individual in sheep evaluation at the 2017 State 4-H contest and earlier this summer at the same contest our team had a great day judging. When the dust settled on an exciting afternoon we were high team in swine judging and the third place team in the state, which qualifies us to compete in the national contest in Kansas City this fall. Individually, I was the second high individual in reasons, high individual in cattle reasons as well as the fourth place individual overall.

It’s hard to believe that my 4-H journey started just a short nine years ago. 4-H and FFA have not only taught me to believe in myself and to set personal and team goals, but it’s taught me that timing is everything. Goals make us who we are and are important in helping us identify what is important vs. what is irrelevant. These premier youth organizations have also instilled me with work ethic, responsibility, and time-management skills. I recently received a $20,000 Texas 4-H scholarship from the San Antonio Livestock Exposition. It was a very humbling experience to be one of the few to receive such a prestigious award and looking back, I have realized what a blessing this program has been for me personally and to my family. I am very appreciative to my parents and grandparents for pushing me to be my best through the years, and I am grateful for the opportunities and experiences that I’ve gained and pride myself in being a product of 4-H and FFA.

While I enjoy the banners, ribbons and buckles, it is the memories that I have made and the life lessons that I have learned that will stay with me forever. The agriculture industry has opened numerous doors for me and has allowed me to make connections with people all over the world. I know that I am a better person and leader because I have learned how to be responsible, hardworking, dedicated and passionate. I consider myself to be an advocate for agriculture and everything we believe in and I feel blessed to be able to say that I have grown up as a member of the agriculture community.

This fall, I will be attending South Plains College in Levelland, Texas. I have received a full scholarship to participate on the Livestock Judging Team. I will be an Animal Science/Pre-Vet major with the ultimate goal of becoming a livestock embryologist. My love for agriculture, especially the livestock industry, is what has driven me to set my goals high. I plan to one day give back to these organizations that helped me to become the person that I am today.

As my high school career comes to a close, there are many people that I would like to thank for the blessings in my life. First and foremost, I thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Without God, nothing that I do or have would be possible. I would also like to thank my family for their support, love and dedication. Thank you for helping me with anything and for being my ringside spectators, cheer squad and reasons critics. To my friends, thank you for always pushing me to be my best. To my grandparents, thank you for traveling all over both Oklahoma and Texas to see me show. To my sister, Jocelyn, thank you for always cheering on “Sissy”. Although you’re still young, I pray that you take every opportunity you can and make the most of them. To mom, thank you for helping me learn how to show sheep, making sure I’m fed, clothed and focused at shows and making me think outside the box to set myself apart. Thank you for your undying love and support. To my dad, the main reason why I am where I am today, thank you for showing me what an honest, God-fearing man should look like. Although you sometimes drive me crazy with your classic rock radio stations, your peanut butter addiction and your interesting “lingo”, you have been my number one supporter throughout my life and I will never be able to truly tell you how grateful I am.

I’ll leave you with this. In life, you will always face challenges, hardships and critics, but I encourage you to never give up. You never know what you will be handed in life, but you are the only one who can determine the outcome. Always remember, “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.”