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Be involved in 4-H livestock program

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By Roberta Hunt

There are many 4-H projects that young people have enjoyed in the Kentucky 4-H program over the past 100 years.  Some of the most popular over those years have been livestock or animal projects.  These programs not only introduce many youth to animals, but more importantly they help youth learn many life skills through their participation and help them to develop positive character traits to become the leaders of tomorrow.

There are many ways youth can be involved in livestock programs through 4-H.  Owning an animal is not a requirement for participation.  Programs offered through 4-H include quiz bowls, skillathons, livestock judging, livestock projects and shows.

Mentally challenging programs such as quiz bowls, skillathons and livestock judging provide young people with skills they can use throughout their lives.  Skills learned through these programs allow 4-Her’s to become more informed consumers, team players, better employees and community leaders, regardless of whether they ever own an animal.  Quiz bowls and skillathons are competitions that test youth’s knowledge in general areas of livestock including nutrition, genetics, disease prevention, breeds and equipment.  Through participation in livestock judging, young people learn to be more observant, confident and develop effective communication skills.  They also learn how to make decisions and logically defend those decisions to a judge.

Livestock projects allow 4-Her’sto get firsthand experience in raising and caring for an animal.  This project teaches youth responsibility as they are in charge of caring for another life.  As the animal grows, young people can take pride in knowing they helped the animal develop and mature.  Livestock shows can be competitive for some youth and parents, but that shouldn’t be the focus.  The goal of 4-H is to raise grand champion kids, not grand champion livestock. Participation in shows teaches youth the importance of proper public behavior in a contest setting.  Losers are taught to be courteous to winners and winners learn to accept their award graciously and humbly.

Washington County 4-H members can participate in livestock projects by joining the 4-H Hooves and Horns club.  All 4-H members showing livestock or participating in livestock judging or skillathons must go through a six-hour training before being able to participate on the district or state level.  The trainings will be held on Feb. 26 and March 12 from 6-9 p.m. at the extension office.

The first opportunity this year for Washington County youth to participate in a livestock judging event will be the Washington County Invitational Livestock Judging Contest on March 14 held at the Livestock Center on Bloomfield Road.  The Washington County Fair Board along with assistance from Washington Co. 4-H and FFA, the Washington County Livestock Center, Washington County Cattleman Assoc. and local donors will host the annual contest that draws 4-H and FFA members from across the state.  4-H members should contact the extension office at 336-7741 by Feb. 26 if they are interested in participating.

Ownership deadlines for youth wanting to show livestock are quickly approaching.  All market animals must be taken to a location to be ear tagged and DNA tested by representative from the State Department of Agriculture during early spring.  Please contact the Extension Office as soon as possible or by March 1 if a youth plans on showing a market animal.  The ownership deadline for beef heifers and dairy cattle is June 1.

The Dustin Worthington “I Love Cows Contest” applications are now available and due back to the extension office by Feb. 25.  The program began in memory of Dustin Worthington, a young man from Mercer County whose main interest in life was working with cattle.  He passed away in a car accident and the program to give heifers to young people was begun in his memory.  

The top essay written by a Washington County 4-H or FFA member will receive a registered beef heifer.  The winner will be announced on April 4 at a special awards program.  Check out the I Love Cow Web site at www.dustinworthingtonmemorial.org.

For more information on any livestock program or project, contact the Washington County Extension Office at 336-7741.

UPCOMING 4-H EVENTS

February 20 is the deadline for the 4-H Poetry Contest. Entries are due to the extension office.

The 4-H Sharpshooters will meet on Monday, Feb. 23, 6:30 p.m. at the extension office.  The Hooves and Horns will meet from 6-9 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 26 at the extension office.

4-H Project kit orders for woodworking and electric are due on March 3 to the extension office.

RESCHEDULED

The first session of the 4-H Sewing project has been rescheduled for Monday, Feb. 23, from 3:30-4:30 p.m. at the extension office.  

Any youth wanting to learn basic sewing skills or to advance those skills already learned, is welcome to attend.  

For more information, contact the Washington County Extension Office at 336-7741.