Q&A with 14-year-old 4-H livestock handler Trinity Boulger
Head, heart, hands, health.
These are the four words that make up the name of 4-H, the worldwide youth organization that focuses on developing children’s life experience and leadership abilities with hands-on learning.
As a program through United States Department of Agriculture, among the club’s many offerings are promoting rural pursuits such as farming and ranching, and those in Moffat County are no exception.
Trinity Boulger, 14, has been part of the program for the past six years, focusing almost exclusively on raising livestock. Though she originally began participating in 4-H to enhance her horseback riding skills, she found other parts of the program appealing as well and has competed in state and national events as a result.
Craig Press caught up with her on her experiences and what she believes 4-H has to offer for young people.
How did you first get involved in 4-H?
Boulger: I remember I had a little pony, and my mom signed me up for gymkhana. (Laughs) I have pictures of myself on this itty-bitty pony, he was the cutest thing of all, but after that I got into it for showing Western horses, and it took a while to get a good horse, one that was good for kids instead of experienced riders. Finally we found my horse, Candy, who we still have. I love that horse, and she’s going to stay here until she dies. She was the one who got me my first buckle, and after that, I wanted to show even more animals. Now I’m showing pigs, goats, steers, lambs and horses. I love it. It’s my passion.
Was working with other kinds of animals a big change?
Boulger: Not really. The pigs were kind of different once I first got them, I was kind of iffy. When we first started going into CJSA (Colorado Junior Swine Association), I had no clue what I was doing, but at the end of it I won Novice, and that was almost luck. I worked out here (in the family barn), walking that pig. I wanted to win so bad in my first year. The Maneotises really helped me out those first few years.
What kind of life skills have you learned through 4-H?
Boulger: Hard work is probably the main thing. A lot of kids go home and sit on their couch and watch TV, but you don’t learn life skills from that. In the summer, I spend about four hours in the barn, morning and night. I get up at 5 (a.m.), blow these guys out (motions to steers), put them in the cooler, feed them. Then I’ll take maybe about a 30-minute nap because I’m tired by then, and you’ve got to make sure they have the perfect temperature. Sometimes it’s twelve o’clock by that time. I’ll work with my goats in the morning, sometimes at night, blow out their legs. The new thing for goats is steer legs, and there’s some hair on goats. I’ll wash them, work with them, walk the pigs, it’s all just crazy.
How does caring for livestock differ from an everyday pet?
Boulger: I don’t think people get the hard work involved. Dogs, you love them, you pet them, every once in a while you give them a bath. But you wouldn’t give them a bath every night like you do with steers. There’s just so much more to it than feeding a pet every night.
We had a pig that was way overweight, we had to hold him from the county fair, and he only got a cup of feed, like, a small cup. He was weighed every day, and every day I would walk him. He was my favorite showmanship pig, I think, but I’d walk him a full 30 minutes. It was morning, noon and night with that one.
Do you have a career in mind at this point that would be related to showing animals?
Boulger: I want to do weight judging. We’re doing a career thing in my FOCUS class, and everyone’s asking, ‘What do you want to be?’ and it was always science stuff, but it wasn’t what I wanted to do, so I asked my teacher if I could do meat judging. I want to give someone else a champion slap and let them have that rush through their blood.
Two local Boy Scouts are making Craig’s Smoky Bear in front of the Bureau of Land Management Little Snake River field office better prepared to weather the elements.