Strickland Middle School
Empowering Lifelong Learners
Denton ISD Students Shine at Local, Statewide Calf Scrambles
For the past three years, Denton ISD’s cattle team has made a habit of shining on the state’s biggest stages. From Fort Worth to San Angelo and Houston, students from across the district have collected valuable prize money at stock show calf scrambles.
Since 2020, the district has had over 12 students participate in 10 major scrambles. Only 20 students from across the state are selected to participate at a time.
The prize money ultimately goes towards helping students purchase their own heifer project, which Denton High School Agriculture Science teacher Shannon McCuistion said teaches students several crucial life skills. This includes everything from collaborating with district FFA cattle advisers to select a heifer, to tracking finances and vet costs associated with the animal.
“They are learning how to keep, maintain and manage their finances, study cattle nutrition, learning how to properly care for and manage cattle, and learning how to conduct themselves properly as people and individuals at corporate and social settings,” Mrs. McCuistion said. “But most of all, they learn to respect their animals and our industry that provides so much globally.”
Last year, Maggie DeLaCerda – a 2022 graduate of Denton High School – won the Grand Champion Steer Calf Scrambler at the Houston Livestock Show, earning $15,000 in scholarship prizes. This year alone, four Denton ISD students have competed in both the Fort Worth Stock Show scramble and Heart O’Texas scramble in Waco.
Together, these four students consisting of Ryan High School junior Kallie Happ, Denton High School sophomores Audrey Decker and Brady Fleitman, and Braswell junior Nate Davis have pocketed a combined $3,500.
Kallie, Audrey, Brady and Nate will also compete alongside Denton High School’s Roberto Puga at the San Angelo and Houston Livestock Show later this year for the opportunity to win even more. Once the scrambles are finished and students purchase their heifer, they must then apply a vast array of skills to complete the project.
“Students are required to keep records and financial statements of the project, turn in detailed information, essays and charts once a month to the calf scramble superintendents, sponsors and their FFA advisors,” Mrs. McCuistion said. “Within this time, students are learning viable life skills.”
In order to be one of the winners of the event, participants must catch a calf that is set free in the center of the rodeo arena. Contestants must then put a halter on the calf and walk or run it back to the square or roped off area in the center of the arena. Ten calves are released, meaning each student has a 50 percent chance of winning.
Brady was awarded $1,000 at the Heart O’Texas scramble in Waco, while Kallie earned $500 at the event. At the Fort Worth Stock Show, Kallie, Brady, Nate and Audrey were each awarded $500.
“I am incredibly proud of their accomplishments,” Mrs. McCuistion said. “These students truly make me want to be a better teacher and advisor for them. They work so incredibly hard through snow, sleet, heat and vacations. Students and teachers take vacations, but animals don’t. They learn so much through this project.”