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The Impacts of a 4-H Livestock Program, K. Taylor, UF/IFAS Extension Sumter County 4-H Agent,

Situation: The Sumter County 4-H and FFA Premier Exhibitor program is a valuable livestock educational experience for youth. The content of the program provides the framework for youth to learn a variety of topics related to the production and management of livestock. Youth demonstrate the knowledge and skills they have acquired through participating in their market livestock projects, an educational workshop, and a showmanship/grooming field day. The program offers the opportunity to award those 4-H or FFA members who understand the importance of learning about not only their livestock project but also the livestock industry. Exhibitors participating have the opportunity to learn and showcase their knowledge of livestock and the livestock industry through educational posters, skill-a-thons, and knowledge tests. Points are accumulated based on their participation and performance. Points are then calculated into achievement monies.
Objectives:
• Encourage youth to expand their livestock knowledge and participate in the market livestock program.
• Teach youth the importance of learning about “real-world” agriculture and encourage them to make sure their livestock projects run parallel with it.
• Test 4-H member’s knowledge and comprehension of animal science and livestock through pre and post-tests, skill-a-thons, and knowledge tests.
Methods: Since 2013, seven educational workshops and seven showmanship field days have been held. An optional educational workshop and field day were held for the Premier Exhibitor participants in which pre/post-tests were given during the educational workshop to quantify the success of this program, in the area of knowledge gain. Average scores were calculated for each in order to compare test scores for those who participated in the educational workshops versus those who did not participate. Results: To date, 312 youth have participated in the workshops and field day. 255 youth have completed the skill-a-thons and knowledge tests. Local businesses and organizations have donated over $15,150 in premium money. Conclusion: Livestock program such as Premier Exhibitor provide youth an opportunity to gain and develop production livestock skills and life skills through a competitive environment. While being rewarded for going above and beyond what is expected of them.

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