He swept the awards at the Ellis County Youth Expo – and he swept the floor of the facility where the event was held.
It could be argued that Will Arnold should be crowned Mr. Ellis County Youth Expo 2008.
The Ennis Junior High School student won four individual contests and also placed first as a member of the Ellis County 4-H judging team. He entered contests ranging from baking a cake to raising and showing a steer.
“He’s had a good week,” said Karen Arnold, Will’s mother.
Will’s individual awards include reserve grand champion steer, overall winner in the intermediate category of the food division, first place in the junior division for livestock judging and overall winner in the livestock electrical division for his shop project.
Although the contests were an accomplishment that required tremendous dedication and hard work, it was only a portion of the eighth-grader’s participation in the Ellis County Youth Expo.
“He’s helped out all week,” Karen said. “He’s handed out ribbons in the hog show, helped put goats and steers on the truck, helped set up pens on work day and assisted with running the auction.
He also helped clean up and put away bleachers and chairs after the event was done.
“I’ve shown steers since I was 8 and I’m 13 now. So that’s my favorite thing (about expo),” Will said. “I’ve been around cattle ever since I was born.
I’ve always wanted to show,” said Will, who is raising five steers, two of which he showed at the expo.
“We take them to all the major shows,” he said.
In preparation for the shows, Will feeds the steers every day and makes sure they have “proper nutrition and plenty of water and hay.”
“We also turn them out every night to a small pen to make sure they get hay and exercise,” he said, saying it “gives them fresh air.”
To ensure the steers are well behaved during a show situation, Will halter breaks them when they’re younger “so they’ll lead for you and be nice and gentle.”
Will also promotes good behavior and handling of the steers by brushing and petting them and “working with their hair.”
“My favorite thing about 4-H is the shows,” said Will, who has attended steer shows in Houston, Fort Worth, San Antonio, Austin, San Angelo and elsewhere.
“I’m one of the only ones that shows steers and does livestock judging in my grade,” he said.
Will has taken wood/metal shop class for two years and is a member of the show team that meets after school to work on projects and to take those projects to shows.
Through his participation in that class and team, as well as 4-H and other agricultural events, Will has learned welding and woodworking skills. He used those skills when making the show fan dolly that he entered in the livestock electrical division at the expo.
“It’s a dolly with an electrical box and fan and a tack box. I can use it (the fan) to keep steers cool and I can keep a bucket and show equipment in the tack box,” he said.
A jack of all trades, Will can prepare everything from eggs and grilled cheese sandwiches to stew, spaghetti and brisket.
He found a great recipe that was “really moist” that he used to prepare the Ultimate Banana Nut Cake he entered in the food contest at the expo.
“I learned to cook from my dad. He has a catering business and I help him,” Will said.
“I’m excited about winning. My dad said, ‘Congratulations,’ ” said Will of all his awards won at this year’s expo.
“We’re so proud of him. He’s worked so hard. He works hard every day,” Karen said, explaining that once his homework is done after school, Will works with the animals from 4:30 to 8 or 9 p.m. Some days he stays at school until 6 p.m. working on his welding projects and then comes home and works with the animals until 9.
“He’s a great child,” Karen said.