Clinton G. Depew, Van Osdell, Mary Ann | 7/20/2007 9:37:04 PM
WEST MONROE – Before the winners of the 38th annual Louisiana 4-H and FFA State Horse Show were announced, participants who gathered around acknowledged learning how to win and lose gracefully was something they took away with them after the competition.
Niki Dutile of Lafayette, in particular, said learning good sportsmanship and teamwork and building friendships were what she enjoyed at her days spent in West Monroe July 10-12. Dutile, 13, was, in fact, one participant who learned to win—in the individual demonstration called "The Art of Rope Work." Dutile has been president of her 4-H Club every year except one since the fourth grade.
"Thank you to everybody who has helped me," she said, "my family and my livestock family."
Coordinated by the LSU AgCenter, the event was held at the Ike Hamilton Expo Center. The youngsters who participated in the state show first competed in district shows around the state.
Other winners Erika Anderson, a Benton High School senior, and Tanya Griffith of Ringgold said they learned responsibility and patience. They won a team demonstration on the proper way to harness a horse.
Anderson’s 4-H activities also include cooking, shooting and serving as a camp counselor. "4-H is my life," she said. She plans to major in animal science at Louisiana Tech University.
Griffith, who won the stakes race both this year and last, said the second time was better because "I get to keep my title."
Rachel Shields, 15, of Dodson said she learned to improve her skills at the horse show so she can teach younger children. "It looks good on college applications," Shields added.
Kaleb Lafollette, 13, of Atlanta participated in the Quiz Bowl for the first time. "I am learning more about horses," he said, "how to take care of them and how to ride." He also shows goats, rabbits and cows in other 4-H projects.
4-H agents sent in questions about horses for the Quiz Bowl. Teams had 10 minutes to accumulate points by answering questions on horse anatomy, diseases, care and ancestry. Jackson Parish beat Lafayette Parish by a nose in Lafollette’s division. Tied at the bell, Jackson answered the next question correctly.
The horse industry is an important part of Louisiana’s diversified agriculture. The latest figures show the total economic impact of the industry meant about $2.45 billion to the state’s economy in 2006, said Dr. Paul Coreil, LSU AgCenter vice chancellor and director of the Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service.
Coreil said horse-related youth development activities, such as the LSU AgCenter’s 4-H horse projects, are an extremely important part of the educational development of the next generation of horse enthusiasts.
At the awards banquet Coreil reiterated the LSU AgCenter’s "support for education, livestock and horse programs. They bring our families together. The future of Louisiana sits in this room," he said.
Competition included skills with horses and other activities that demonstrate such abilities as public speaking on a subject pertaining to the equine industry. Events included breakaway roping, pole bending, Western riding, reining and barrel racing.
The Monroe-West Monroe Convention and Visitors Bureau supported the show with a grant for the second year, said Alana Cooper, executive director.
"We want to support a statewide event and horse show and bring in youth to our area," Cooper said. "We want to expose them to North Louisiana. We want to make sure it’s easy to come here."
The bureau also provided such in-kind assistance as judges for the speaking contest, gifts for judges and door prizes.
Mike Dartez received the Leader of the Year Award. He has been a 4-H leader in Vermilion Parish for 11 years. He has organized and taught workshops from horse judging to experiential learning in the area of horse safety. He is a Master Horseman who regularly participates in the training of new Master Horsemen.
The 4-H program is the youth development arm of the nationwide land-grant university system. It is operated in Louisiana by the LSU AgCenter and includes projects for youth on topics ranging from raising livestock to computer science, family life, environmental science and much more.