Another successful Katy ISD FFA Livestock Show is in the books.
This year’s event was especially ecstatic as students, teachers and guests enjoyed a newly constructed complex, like no other in the state of Texas, where opportunities for agricultural sciences education are limitless. Though physically the buildings are new, there’s a wealth of history behind the construction of the three new facilities named after Gerald D. Young, L.D. Robinson and William Edward “Billy” Morgan.
On Feb. 16, the portraits of the three Katy ISD namesakes were revealed during a dedication ceremony. Among the crowd was living legacy, Gerald D. Young, whom until this day plays an active role in the Katy ISD Livestock Show & Rodeo.
Young, who was hired to work in Katy ISD in 1980, worked with the 74 vocational agricultural students attending Katy High School.
He was also in charge of the District 2 Livestock Judging Contest, which later became the Katy Invitational Judging Contest. With his leadership, the program continues to flourish today.
Through his 22 years as a teacher in Katy ISD, Young was responsible for training 60 teams that qualified for state contests. Of those, 10 won state and seven went on to the national contest, where five teams place in the top five of their respective categories, with one national winner.
He was also instrumental in the advancement of agriculture sciences as part of the District’s educational curriculum. He helped write and lobby for House Bill 3485, which passed, allowing agricultural sciences courses to count for science, math, speech and fine arts.
“I would tell the young students and teachers in Katy ISD, you have found a home,” said Namesake Gerald D. Young. “There is no better place to teach agricultural sciences than at this new facility.”
In 1942, L.D. Robinson and his family moved to Katy, TX to pursue his ultimate dream: to create an FFA chapter like no other.
The visionary educator wanted to create a chapter that included a science farm, livestock show and rodeo, complete with a lighted rodeo arena, among other amenities, which would not cost the district any money. In 1943, with just $45, Robinson bought nine pigs to raise and auction.
They were housed in the old PTA shack he bought for $12.50, creating a hands-on learning experience for the Ag students.
To gather a crowd for the auction, Robinson had the ingenuity to organize a “Cowboy Sports Rally Rodeo” as entertainment to coincide with the pig sale. Thus marked the very first Katy ISD FFA Livestock Show and Rodeo. In 1947, a farm complex, barns, bleachers and an arena were completed just south of Katy High School.
The event developed into the first full-service K-12 program of its kind in the nation.
Because of Robinson’s dream and vision, Katy ISD’s FFA programs now exists in every high school and more than 3,200 students benefit from the lessons, mission and education offered.
About the same time that L.D. Robinson was hoping to auction his pigs, William Edward “Billy” Morgan saw it as a perfect opportunity to get the community involved.
At 19, Morgan found himself and several of his friends performing at the rodeo sports rally and working to ensure it would be successful. He loved that the livestock show and rodeo was a community project that connected people while providing funds to invest in the FFA program and facilities. For many years, he as the arena director and was known to many as “Uncle Billy,” because of how closely he supported the program and those involved. When the aging arena needed to be replaced, Morgan and three others took out a $10,000 loan to build it.
They believed in the program and in Robinson’s plan that it would one day pay for itself. The loans were paid back in just three years.
Morgan was also a founder of the Katy Rodeo Committee and served as chairman for more than 30 years. His passion for agriculture, farming and ranching went far beyond the boundaries of the Katy program. He wanted to model the importance of volunteering and participating in the community.
Morgan attended every rodeo held up until his death.