WUFT News

Family Lends Show Animals To Underprivileged Students At Alachua County Fair

By on October 29th, 2013

Alachua County fair cowsTom Massagee reclined on a bale of hay as fair goers wandered in and out of his exhibit.

Some pushed dollar bills into his hand in exchange for a cup of animal feed, and others asked questions about the 50 animals on display at the Alachua County Fair on Thursday.

Massagee didn’t mind. After all, he has more than one hundred farm animals — including cows, goats, sheep, pigs, Polish chickens, geese and rabbits on his Archer farm — proof that he enjoys his generations-old hobby.

“The Alachua County Fair allows us to come in and show them, and a lot of children of Alachua County get to see animals, not just zoo animals, but real farm animals,” he said.

In its third year at the Alachua County Youth Fair, the Massagee family not only hopes to educate others about agriculture, but also to attract those who might be interested in their program.

Massagee’s charity doesn’t stop at the annual fair, where he and his family get no kickback for participating. The fair is also a way for Massagee, 49, and his wife, Kim, 48, to advertise a family tradition of lending show animals to students who otherwise couldn’t afford it.

All three of the couple’s children, now 25, 24 and 21, grew up showing animals in local competitions, part of Florida’s Future Farmers of America. As their children got older, so did their cattle. Now, the family lets students who are unable to pay for their own animal use theirs.

“It’s a family thing,” he said.

In 15 years of service, Massagee estimates the family has sponsored up to 500 students.

This year, the Massagees are looking to expand their charity to handicap students who are interested in showing off their animals. The family has sponsored disabled students in competition before, but transportation to the events always pose an issue in rural Alachua County.

Owning beef or dairy cattle for show doesn’t come easy. Kim Massagee said each student must learn all about the animal, and then also give a helping hand in the maintenance. Students also must raise money for the animals hay and feed.

“It’s a full day’s job in here, cleaning the pens and feeding and watering,” Massagee said.

Massagee is head of the Archer Trailblazers, a 4-H Club part of the country’s largest youth development organization. In 20 years, the Trailblazers have grown to 60 active members. About 12 of those turn to the Massagees for assistance.

Jodi Mikell, a 16-year-old junior at Santa Fe High School, switched to the Trailblazers last year because the group was more community-oriented.

Being raised by parents who grew up showing cows, Mikell said it was “just natural” to join a 4-H Club in high school.

Mikell herself has benefited from the Massegee’s charity. She’s shown their beef and dairy cattle in competition and in return, she’s helped with the maintenance of the family’s pigs and cows.

“They have always been a part of the community,” she said.


This entry was posted in Local and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
 

More Stories in Local

Teacher Conference Aims to Bring Global Perspective Into Classrooms

Gainesville Connected, a conference in Gainesville, aims to equip teachers to engage students on global issues such as poverty.


Anna Claire (left) and Katie Scarlett (right) are two capuchin monkeys that were once pets but now live in the Jungle Friends Primate Sanctuary. Scarlett is blind and Claire is diabetic.

Primate Sanctuaries Feel Stresses of Insufficient Funding

Sanctuaries are struggling to take in primates as researchers and pet owners forgo euthanasia for better homes.


Oct. 23, 2014: Afternoon News in 90

A video roundup of local, state and national stories for readers in North Central Florida.


The Ocala City Council voted not to renew Matthew Brower's contract as city manager on Tuesday. Brower's current contract will expire on Dec. 21.

Ocala City Manager’s Contract Not Renewed

The request to reappoint Matthew Brower as Ocala’s city manager was rejected on a three-to-two vote by the Ocala City Council. Brower was appointed city manager in February 2011, and his contract will now expire on Dec. 21.


Victoria Rusinov administers FluMist to a child at the Control Flu clinic at Littlewood Elementary School.

CDC Studies Effects of Nasal Spray Flu Vaccine Over Traditional Shot for Children

Recent studies suggests a nasal spray form of the flu vaccine is more effective than the flu shot in healthy children ages 2 to 8, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Day Sponsorship Payments
Underwriting Payments