Norvell, 30, grew up on a farm in Amber and spent his spring breaks beginning at age 9 at the Oklahoma Youth Expo. He wrote his first check for his animals when he was 8, he said.
This year’s show continues through Friday and will have an estimated $24 million impact on Oklahoma City’s economy, according to the Oklahoma City Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.
Showcased animals include hogs, sheep, goats and cattle.
In each category judging is based on the physique of the animal or presentation of the student.
Students who are in grades 3 through 12 and active in 4-H or FFA can participate.
The top winners receive scholarships to Oklahoma colleges.
“This is a nonprofit organization, so we rely heavily on our sponsors,” Norvell said. “Our sponsors tell us that yes, they want these kids to learn life skills and be educated, but they also want them to go to college here in Oklahoma, to get jobs and become contributing citizens here in Oklahoma.”
In an arena filled with cowboy boots and hats, shiny belt buckles and farm animals, Norvell said the group, despite its enormity, is like family.
That proved especially true this year for Emily and Hallie Cooper.