This week’s “From Pipi’s Pasture” is a reflection on the accomplishments of the young people who competed in two winter livestock competitions—the 2013 Arizona National Livestock Show and the 2013 National Western Stock Show.
One evening during the last week of the Stock Show our granddaughter Megan (Prather), of Bailey, called to tell us that her registered Columbian ewe, Jolie Chose, was selected as the Supreme Ewe in the Natural Colored Sheep Category, winning over other Champions in their wool breed classes. (The Natural Colored Sheep Category places emphasis on wool production.)
So that got me thinking about what Megan had learned to get there. She had to know how to select a breeding ewe in the first place and then something about quality wool. And there’s the care of animals and learning how to show in competition. Megan shows market animals, too, so the list of what she has learned over the years is pretty overwhelming.
That goes for the Moffat County 4-H/FFA members who exhibited animals in one or both of these winter shows, too: Call and Mackenzie Camblin, Andrea Maneotis, Jerica DeLong, Alexi Goodnow, and Brice White. “Awesome” is the word to describe their accomplishments, both in how they placed in competition and what they have learned over the years.
Some readers may not realize what a big deal it is to place during competition in a big event like the National Western. To say there are lots of entries is an understatement, indeed, because there may be hundreds. Also, the exhibitors come from all over the country so to receive a ribbon in competition is really a national honor.
But perhaps even more important than ribbons, banners and premiums are the life skills that 4-H and FFA members acquire throughout the years as they raise and show their animals. The young people may not even realize what they’ve gained — sometimes until they’ve grown up.
Among others, some of these life skills are:
• Stick-to-it-ness: This skill comes from “hanging in there,” year after year, as 4-H and FFA members apply what they’ve learn from previous years. They do not give up.
• Responsibility: These young people have to care for their animals, often feeding them early before school. They also have to train their animals, keep deadlines and more.
• Knowledge of the Industry: 4-H and FFA members learn how to select quality breeding and market animals they learn about various breeds (such as the sheep breeds that produce the best wool), they learn about health and nutrition of animals and so much more. (Judges ask them questions about the industry during judging.)
• Sportsmanship: Young people learn to help others, and they learn how to be good sports when winning and losing.
• Empathy: These young people know how to treat animals well.
• Record Keeping: 4-H and FFA members learn how to keep accurate records. These are required in order to show their animals.
This story focused on winter livestock shows, but there are many other competitions and many more exhibitors. One thing is for sure. We can be proud of our young people’s accomplishments.