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Eagle Ford: Eagle Ford boom benefits area youth
KARNES CITY -- Amid the pro- and anti-oil-boom opinions, one positive effect from the oil and gas exploration has been experienced by youth in the Eagle Ford shale region. Most county livestock shows, including Karnes County, are by no means a financial mecca for 4-H and FFA participants. The benefits, instead, lie in possessing the motivation to continue the rich tradition of showing projects in the local livestock shows, while hoping to make some profit at auction.
A trend has been seen in recent years in the Karnes County Youth Show, which can be attributed to the participation of oil-field related businesses supporting area youth.
In the past decade, Karnes County Youth Show auction receipts have fluctuated slightly, but were similar from year to year. Over the past several years, however, as the oil-field activity increased, so has the investment in the Karnes County Youth Show. Oil companies have given back to the Karnes County show with monetary and labor donations; however, the largest upward trend has been in the enormous returns in the show auction, with record prices for some animals in recent years.
According to Karnes County Show Board President Chris Jendrusch of Falls City, purchasing and raising a show steer project can cost more than $5,000. From the purchase of the animal to vet bills and feed, the yearlong commitment easily can become a financial strain on the young show exhibitors. By January and show time, the owner can only hope to place high enough for the sale, which does not promise a return on their investment. While the youth gain priceless knowledge and responsibility, their end goal is to have some funds to invest in the following year’s project and their college education.
Many of the top 10 buyers in the Karnes County Youth Show auction in the past couple of years have been directly connected with the growth from the Eagle Ford shale, according to Jendrusch. The youth show exhibitors have been blessed with the contributions of oil-related buyers. Whether it is from the support businesses or the landowners who have leased their land, the overall return for youth has been overwhelming. Grand champion projects and minimum bids have been boosted higher than ever before.
This year’s Karnes County Youth Show has continued the trend, and record-breaking contributions were evident again. The show and facilities benefited from donations of extra lighting, ice, shavings, and propane for heating, a sizable contribution. However, the auction receipts visibly revealed the influence of the Eagle Ford boom, as individuals and businesses affected by the oil industry in South Texas shared their success with their community. The 2013 auction receipts totaled $595,474, not including add-ons. This is a steady and marked rise over the 2010 receipts of $295,088, 2011’s takings of $382,921, and last year’s total of $528,939.
Although some negative talk about the local effects of the Eagle Ford oil boom may continue, such generosity to the youth by community members and the oil-related businesses now operating in the community offers a different perspective.
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