Linda Benedict, Dwayne Nunez | 10/19/2015 12:27:14 AM
The 78th LSU AgCenter Livestock Show is Feb. 9-16 at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales. Working with livestock helps young people develop knowledge, a sense of responsibility and skills that last a lifetime.
More than 2,000 4-H and FFA exhibitors and 1,500 breeding animals, 1,600 market animals, 180 pens of broilers and 700 exhibition birds will be in the competition.
By the time 4-H and FFA members reach the state show, they already will have competed in parish and district competitions across Louisiana. All will arrive in Gonzales aiming to be state champions – or at least to earn rewards for their hard work and dedication.
But the livestock show and the educational efforts that support it are more about the kids than the livestock. The program is about helping young people be all they can be and rewarding them for the perseverance, courage and the commitment they have put into taking care of animals, according to LSU AgCenter Vice Chancellor Paul Coreil.
Organizers say livestock projects provide a means for families to come together to participate in quality educational activities. Young people say participating in the program gives them opportunities to make new friends, see old friends and gain valuable experience. And everyone agrees it helps youngsters develop character and hone skills that will benefit them, their families and their communities throughout their lives.
The life skills young people gain from working with livestock projects is the major focus of the LSU AgCenter’s livestock shows. “All of these young people are champions, whether the animals they are showing turn out to be winners or not,” Coreil said.
As a result of what they learn, generations of young people who have participated in LSU AgCenter livestock projects go on to become leaders – whether in the livestock industry or a variety of other fields ranging from medicine to government.
“Livestock shows and livestock projects give a glimpse of some of the best young people in the state and some of the brightest outcomes of our youth development programs,” Coreil said.
Coreil also points out that parents, teachers, 4-H agents, leaders and other volunteers who support the 4-H program play a big role in youth development.
Dwayne Nunez, Livestock Show manager, says youth participating in livestock projects gain knowledge of animal husbandry – including selection, genetics, nutrition, health, fitting, showing, economics and marketing of livestock.
“But they also develop skills such as communication, leadership and cooperation,” Nunez said.
Premier Exhibitors learn animal science
Thanks to an endowment from Gerry Lane Enterprises of Baton Rouge, the premier exhibitor program recognizes exceptional young people, even though their animals may not have been selected as champions. These 4-H and FFA members have gained a thorough understanding of animal science. This program started in 1999.
"These young people have to pass an exam, go through a skill-a-thon, write an essay, prepare a resume and show poise and confidence during an interview with livestock show officials," Coreil said.
The awards are based on performance in tests of each youth’s knowledge of the livestock industry and in practical exercises that demonstrate their skills and the ability to communicate effectively.
To learn more about 4-H or to become involved in the livestock project, go to Kids, Teens & 4-H.