Shannon L. Bere, Merrill, Thomas A. | 1/27/2007 3:54:42 AM
BATON ROUGE – Hundreds of Louisiana youngsters will gather in South Louisiana Feb. 10-17 as they compete in the 72nd annual LSU AgCenter Spring Livestock.
Approximately 1,500 4-H and FFA members are expected to bring about 4,500 animals to the state show, which will be held at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales.
By the time the youngsters reach the February events, they already will have competed in parish and district livestock shows across Louisiana during the first few weeks of 2007. They will arrive at the Spring Livestock Show with the hopes of being named state champions.
LSU AgCenter Chancellor William B. "Bill" Richardson says the annual event may be called a livestock show, but he points out it reflects much more.
"There’s no question that the animals in this show represent some of the best examples of our state’s vibrant animal industry – an industry worth more than $2.5 billion to Louisiana’s economy last year," Richardson said. "But each animal selected as a champion during this show will be accompanied by a champion young person."
Richardson and LSU AgCenter Vice Chancellor Paul Coreil said the life skills young people gain from working with livestock projects really are the major focus of the LSU AgCenter’s livestock shows.
"We are honored to sponsor this annual event, where young people across the state gather to build life skills in leadership, character and responsibility through educational livestock projects," Coreil said. "All of these young people are champions, whether the animals they are showing turn out to be winners or not."
Judges at the LSU AgCenter Spring Livestock Show determine state champions in various breeds of beef and dairy cattle, goats, hogs, poultry and sheep.
In addition, six young people will be selected to receive Gerry Lane Premier Exhibitor Awards in a competition based on their knowledge of livestock. These annual awards were made possible by a $60,000 endowment donated in 1998 by Gerry Lane Enterprises of Baton Rouge.
Those winners, as well as winners of scholarships and other awards, will be honored during a ceremony and reception at 5 p.m. Feb. 17 at the Lamar-Dixon Center’s Trademart Building.
This year's show is dedicated to Dr. Ken Roberts, who retired in the fall of 2006 after a 28-year career with the LSU AgCenter. Among his most recent duties was serving as an associate vice chancellor who helped to oversee both the move of this livestock show to the more modern facilities at Lamar-Dixon and the state horse show to improved facilities as well.
"He did an outstanding job in making the move from the LSU Campus to Gonzales very positive," Coreil said. "Ken’s leadership was important in developing and maintaining a positive approach to the move to Lamar-Dixon, resulting in an educational event that allowed for a higher-quality educational experience for both 4-H exhibitors and their families. He worked hard to assure that the state show maintained its LSU AgCenter identity even if held in a new venue."
Keeping the educational value of the livestock shows and recognizing the work of outstanding young people are the major focuses, according to LSU AgCenter administrators.
"Our livestock shows provide an opportunity for some of the most outstanding youth in the state to receive recognition for the hard work they have done in learning not only the scientific principles that must be mastered but also the responsibility required to grow this wide array of animals," Richardson said. "This show is about the dedication of the young people and the many parents, teachers, volunteer leaders, 4-H agents and FFA advisers who have worked with the young people to help them grow as people and responsible citizens."
For more information on the show and the variety of research and educational activities offered by the LSU AgCenter, visit www.lsuagcenter.com or call your parish LSU AgCenter Extension Office.