La. youth headed for state livestock show Feb. 13-20 in Gonzales

Richard Bogren, Nunez, Dwayne P.

Ellie LeBlanc, 9, of Jennings, smiles as she exits the arena with ribbons in hand at the 2015 LSU AgCenter Livestock Show. Photo by Olivia McClure/LSU AgCenter

News Release Distributed 01/12/16

BATON ROUGE, La. – Hundreds of youth from across Louisiana will be gathering in Gonzales next month for the 81st annual LSU AgCenter Livestock Show at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center.

LSU AgCenter officials say they expect more than 2,500 4-H and FFA exhibitors to bring about 1,600 breeding animals, 1,500 market animals, 180 pens of broilers and 600 exhibition birds to the competition on Feb. 13-20.

By the time those 4-H and FFA members reach the state show, they already will have competed in parish and district competitions across Louisiana during the first few weeks of 2015. All will arrive in Gonzales aiming to be state champions – or at least to earn rewards for their hard work and dedication.

Judges at the show determine the winners in various breeds of beef and dairy cattle, goats, hogs, poultry and sheep.

Outside funding for the show includes a grant from the Arlene and Joseph Meraux Foundation, which promotes the culture of agriculture among young people in St. Bernard Parish and across Louisiana. The Meraux Foundation donation qualified for and received an additional $60,000 in matching funds from the Board of Regents Support fund.

The Meraux Foundation Supreme Champion Livestock Awards endowment established in 2015 provides awards to the contestants who win Supreme Champion Breeding Animal for each of the six breeding species – beef cattle, dairy, poultry, sheep, goats and swine.

This year, PotashCorp has established an endowment to fund awards for the senior showmanship winners for each of the six species. Showmanship is synonymous with sportsmanship and occurs when opponents, show team members, officials and anyone else are treated with respect by the exhibitor. PotashCorp is the world’s largest fertilizer company by capacity, producing potash, nitrogen and phosphate.

Six exhibitors will earn Premier Exhibitor awards, which place emphasis and recognition on exhibitors’ knowledge and skills in the 4-H and FFA livestock projects. Supported by an endowment from Gerry Lane Enterprises in Baton Rouge, the program is open to participants exhibiting beef, dairy, swine, sheep, poultry and goats. The program tests all facets of youths’ proficiency in their livestock projects through an interview, a resume, a test, a skill-a-thon and showing ability.

One exhibitor will receive the Price LeBlanc Champion Livestock Award, which is presented to one grand champion market animal each year from among five species – steers, swine, sheep, chickens and goats. The award is funded by an endowment from Price LeBlanc, a Baton Rouge automobile dealership.

The livestock show also includes a quality assurance and ethics certification program that educates youth on proper and ethical use of animal health products, ensuring a high-quality, wholesome product.

While the annual event may be called a livestock show, it’s more about the young people than their animals, said LSU Vice President for Agriculture Bill Richardson.

“This event provides an opportunity for some of the most outstanding youth in the state to receive recognition for their hard work in learning not only the scientific principles that must be mastered but also the responsibility required to raise this wide array of animals,” Richardson said. “This show also is about the dedication of 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.”

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, Richardson said.

Youth participating in livestock projects gain knowledge of animal husbandry – including selection, genetics, nutrition, health, showing, economics and marketing of livestock, said livestock show manager Dwayne Nunez. “But they also develop skills such as communication, leadership and cooperation,” he said.

Competition in various phases of the show will begin almost as soon as the first animals are checked in on Saturday, Feb. 13, and will continue daily through Feb. 20.

A concluding awards ceremony on Feb. 20 will recognize champion market animal exhibitors, champion showmanship winners and Premier Exhibitors as well as recipients of the annual Superintendent of Education Award, Attorney General Award and Governor Awards.

More information on the show and the variety of research and educational activities offered by the LSU AgCenter is available online at and through LSU AgCenter parish extension offices.

Rick Bogren

1/12/2016 11:41:03 PM
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