Some might say Megan Rivera has mastered her craft. As if written like a well-played script the Oakdale High School alum and Chico State graduate recently earned a title as “Champion.”
The title, however, was not on a college sports team or academic endeavor, Rivera strutted her stuff for one final time at the Arizona National Livestock Show. A “strut” or walk around a ring as she showed and earned the title for not one, but two pigs in two separate categories.
“I’ve shown pigs every year except last year,” the OHS Class of 2015 alum shared, noting that in previous years she had placed third or fourth overall, yet never anything of this significance.
“I’d placed in showmanship, but never had a breed champion like I did with these two pigs,” she continued.
Rivera estimates there were approximately 1300 pigs in total at the national show. She began working with her two pigs in July of 2019, while attending her final days at Chico State. The Agriculture Education major completed her Bachelor of Science Degree in December 2019.
Not new to the ring or working with pigs, Rivera shared it did occur to her that it had been two years since she’d been in a ring to show. First discovering her love for pigs at the age of nine in 4-H, the absence didn’t seem to faze her.
The champion shared as she looked to the event and potential opportunities to show ahead of this event she thought she’d just “save it all” and see what happened at nationals.
“I kept making jokes ahead of time, saying I really want to go out with a bang this time,” she said. “So it was really cool that I got to.”
As a young girl, Rivera shared she discovered her passion for pigs, working with them, as well as showing them. She also discovered her passion for agriculture and set her sights on pursing a career on the ag track.
“What I really love about agriculture is that there’s a lot of different aspects to it,” she explained. “I’m not just talking about a farming side versus a ranching side.”
Through her experience in 4-H and FFA, the Ag Education major learned there’s also a leadership side that not everyone gets to see. One she said she feels prepares students for being young professional adults.
“That’s something I want to do,” she said of helping mold and prepare students. “I love working with people, especially high school students. The older I get the weirder they are and I love it.”
While she always knew the area of ag was where she hoped to land, it was her experience with Oakdale High School FFA, notably former teacher Rebecca Mendonca, which inspired her to pursue teaching.
“When I saw Rebecca Mendonca in the classroom my senior year, I was like, she is exactly what I want to be,” Rivera said. “The things she does for students and the way she carries herself is exactly what I want to be.”
As fate would have it, Rivera worked with raising her pigs through Mendonca’s husband Adam of No Limit Genetics. A partnership which has been maintained right up through ‘championship day’ in Arizona. Not only was the Chico graduate fortunate enough to have her career mentor in attendance, but her mother, Lisa and sister, Lauren as well.
“They haven’t been able to come in years past,” she said of her family. “It’s always so fun, because it’s a national show and you see people from all over that you don’t always get to see. So to have them come and then have them come when I did that great. It was the best thing I could ask for.”
As the champion for the two classes, Rivera earned a buckle as well as a banner for both pigs. She also had both automatically placed for sale as the winner. Above it all, however, all the highs and memorable moments, there is one thing which now has her extra excited.
“I think the cooler part (of winning),” she said, “is yes I am done, but now I have experiences that can prove that I kind of know what I’m doing. So now I can help students and students can take me seriously.”