Legacy of 4-H livestock projects

A boy stands near a table while holding a rabbit sitting on the table. A small teen boy holds up an award near a 4-H green clover sign.

Kade Huval broadened his livestock exhibition skills through a rabbit project. Photo by Olivia McClure.

The Huval family has exhibited livestock in the St. Martin Parish 4-H program for the past 46 consecutive years. As the family welcomes their first year with an empty barn, they reflect upon past projects.

Their journey to the show ring started in 1976 when grandfather Maxie Huval started a sheep project with his son Buster at the encouragement of a family friend. Following in their brother’s boot steps, younger sisters Roxanne and Cajun both found their way to the show ring and exhibited sheep as well.

By the time Cajun graduated high school, Buster Huval’s son Brandon, was nine years old and ready to start his show career. Later, Brandon’s younger brothers Hunter and Kade kept the family tradition going. From 1976 until 2022, two things remained the same: The Huval family treated 4-H as a family project, and each new exhibitor started off washing water buckets.

When Buster Huval and his wife, Connie, were asked to reflect on their time as livestock exhibitor parents, they responded that most people think that showing livestock is about winning, but they knew it was about the time spent with their sons. The family feels that they learned a lot about responsibility through the 4-H livestock projects. No matter how demanding or expensive the project became, the family did it together.

Despite many obstacles, the Huval family has continued to find their way into the show ring. In 2006, as the family left an LSU livestock show midweek to drop off one set of animals and pick up pigs for the second half of the show, a tornado destroyed their home, barn and vehicles. The support from their community was tremendous. Other 4-H families picked up their pigs and kids and brought them to the show while community volunteers helped them rebuild. Buster credits the community assistance with the short six-month rebuilding process.

Throughout their time in 4-H, the Huvals continued to give back to the program by mentoring other exhibitors or donating livestock to the parish for the annual 4-H auction. When asked what the family’s future with 4-H looks like, Buster and Connie think of their young grandchildren with a smile. They welcome the current break but look forward to starting over again, and to knowing that 4-H livestock projects and family time are one and the same.

Favorite 4-H memory:

  • Connie: Witnessing the connections her boys made through their 4-H livestock projects.
  • Buster: Seeing all that the program gave to his boys.
  • Kade: Winning reserve champion at LSU with his pig, Cupcake.
  • Hunter: Helping younger exhibitors with their projects during his senior year of high school.
3/1/2023 8:31:32 PM
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