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Producer’s choice teaches life skills

Josh Nichols

Sarah Kawcak, a 15-year-old Craig resident involved in 4-H, might not win the Grand Champion prize for the lamb she shows every year at the fair, but she said she doesn’t mind.

Kawcak is one of 10 local youth involved in the producer’s choice category at the Moffat County Fair.

She has been involved in the program all seven years she has been in 4-H.

Instead of going for the Grand Champion recognition, Kawcak said she is learning valuable market skills.

Instead of raising lambs that are good for show, they’re raising lambs that would have a high market price.

“Kids who choose to be in producer’s choice learn what it’s like to be a producer in the real world,” she said.

The youth involved in producer’s choice are judged on four items. They include:

The record book they keep of their lamb’s growth and progress.

A presentation they give on some aspect of the sheep industry.

The carcass of their lamb.

The rate of weight gain of their lamb.

The week before the fair each 4-Her had to give a presentation.

Ramona Green, who was responsible for getting the producer’s choice program started seven years ago in Moffat County, said members of the group this year gave presentations on scrapie, imports and exports, food, safety and marketing.

“There were some really in-depth subjects that these kids researched,” she said.

The producer’s choice program is a unique opportunity for students to learn valuable skills, she said.

In keeping their records, the youth learn what it takes to make money as a producer.

“The faster the lambs grow, the less money they’re putting into it,” she said. “When they follow their records they realize they can make more money that way.”

Kawcak said she has learned what is required in being a producer.

“We need to produce a lamb that a consumer wants to buy,” she said. “It teaches you how big sheep producers will raise lambs. It gives you a perspective of the real life lamb market.”

There’s a difference in what the youth in producer’s choice are doing compared to what other 4-Hers are doing who are involved in the other sheep classes at the fair, Green said.

“It’s more of a product-type

lamb rather than a show lamb,” she said.

Unlike others involved in the fair, youth in producer’s choice do not find out who wins until November. At that time those who have done the best in the four different judged categories win scholarships.

“It’s very unique for us around here,” Green said of the program. “It’s just a different approach to the same thing. In some cases it gives kids a chance who don’t have the advantage of going out and buying that top of the line lamb.”


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