STOCKTON -- They're more than just animals, for the kids at the annual San Joaquin Agfest their livestock is an investment.
"All year kids have worked hard on raising their market animals as well as their breeding animals and they come here to the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds," said Elisabeth Watkins, who is an AgFest board member.
The young farmers put months of hard work on display each year. Watkins says 980 exhibitors presented around 2,500 animals. They've been showing their animals throughout the week.
"This year I'm a little better and I got a bigger goat," said Paige Allen.
Many of them will put their livestock up for auction this Saturday.
"They're a fun learning experience and it's awesome because you have to work with your pigs to place high and it's like very fun to do them," said Frankie Teicheira, who was showing his pig.
The kids aren't just learning how to raise goats, or pigs, or cows, or even turkeys. They told FOX40 they're learning a lot about life as well.
"Raising an animal teaches students how to be financially responsible," Watkins said. "They have to find the money to purchase the animal, pay for the feed and all the other expenses before they're actually paid after the auction. They also learn hard work and responsibility waking up early in the morning to feed their animals."
When their animals go to auction the students get to keep their earnings.
"I'm going to put it in my bank account and probably save it up for something like a car, or my college account, or anything like that, something important," Allen said.
Although they have to say goodbye to many of the animals they've worked for months to raise, they walk away understanding the importance of local farmers.
"Food doesn't come from the grocery store and that's what consumers are starting to think," Watkins said. "So for the students to have an opportunity to learn how to raise an animal, they get a knowledge of where their food comes from and understand all the hard work that goes into growing and producing the food that feeds the world."
The auction at AgFest is this Saturday and it is open to the public, so anyone can go purchase an animal and support the kids.