Clovis students win big at state fair

Benna Sayyed

Dusty Odegaard has been welding since he was 10 years old. Levi Cordova has been showing pigs for a decade.

The Clovis FFA members each won grand champion in their specialty this month at the New Mexico State fair in Albuquerque.

Odegaard won the Grand Champion Agriculture Mechanics Project award and Cordova received the Grand Champion Market Swine award.

“Winning the award was awesome. Last year (2010) I won second place at state fair. This year I won first place,” said Odegaard, a Clovis High senior.

Odegaard constructed his trophy trailer in three months.

“After the 2010 county fair, he came to me with this idea of building a welding trailer and we kicked the idea around a little bit. The only guidance I had to give him was to show him where I would make the cut if I were him,” said Morgan Arguello, agriculture mechanics teacher at Clovis High School.

“Dusty has been probably one of my finest welders. He has an outstanding work ethic. In a way he’s one of those kids that you’ve always wanted to have that is persistent and pays very close attention to detail, a perfectionist so to speak,” Arguello said.

Odegaard works at his family’s auto service in Clovis. He will graduate this year and plans to build a welding career and start a welding business.

Cordova and his brothers raise and breed sows to sell all over Texas and New Mexico. A 2011 CHS graduate, Cordova served as the FFA president as a senior at CHS and FFA District Four vice president that same year.

He said the market swine competition brings out the best hogs in the state.

“It’s very competitive. You have these pigs and push hard to breed them and work with them every day to get them to win. When you win, the feeling is amazing,” Cordova said.

According to CHS FFA director Mark Runyan, Cordova’s prize pig earned the student $5,000.

“Levi’s family has been working on that project for a long time. As far as guiding him, I talked to him a little about changes in the pigs. I did not talk to him that much because his family knows what they’re breeding,” Runyan said.

“Levi and his family have been rewarded for working hard and they got recognized for having the best pig in the state,” he said.

Cordova is working at local tire shop and plans to carry on his family’s tradition when he is not fixing tires.

“What this (Levi’s award) says for us is that it can happen. If the students work at it, they can win that top award in the state. It’s great advertisement for the program here in Clovis. And I think it makes kids think ‘If he can do it, I can do it,’” said Runyan, who sees FFA growing locally and likely around the state.

He hopes Cordova is considering college, and expects that his hog sales will help finance his education.