Spring in the Suwannee Valley means it’s time for youth livestock shows. The hard work of youth raising their steers, pigs and other livestock all leads up to that one week. It’s every exhibitor’s dream to have that blue ribbon animal. After all, between the time and money invested into these projects, shouldn’t the ultimate goal be to get a blue ribbon? Maybe, but don’t lose sight of the accomplishments that have been achieved raising a project animal.
Youth organizations such as 4-H and Future Farmers of America teach youth the skills needed to become successful adults and raising show animals is one such program. A study conducted at Texas Tech University was aimed at validating the perceived benefits of competitive Livestock youth programs. While the results of the study showed obvious benefits such as skills learned to raise, care for and show animals, there were other benefits as well.
Social benefits were the most common theme recurring in the study’s results. Youth understood and had tremendous appreciation for the friendships made while participating in livestock shows. These relationships had a strong positive impact on the youth’s career goals and the simple need for companionship. Social benefits also included youth being exposed to different cultures that shows attract in both rural and urban communities.
The positive influence on youth’s character was also a significant benefit found by the study. The 4-H motto is learning by doing and this study underlines the influence the livestock shows have on youth learning positive character traits that include responsibility, confidence, sportsmanship, and how to deal with loss. These are character traits that are crucial in youth becoming respectable and productive young adults.
When the livestock shows are over and another child’s animal has been awarded best of show, or a grand champion animal has sold for a record bid, pause and think before becoming discouraged. Some project goals may not have been achieved, but when a child has learned the value of hard work, established new friendships and developed those character traits essential to becoming productive caring citizens, a club, parent and community have done their part in raising a blue ribbon kid.
If you would like to know more about 4-H please contact your local extension office.