Six participants of the 83rd annual LSU AgCenter Livestock Show received awards through the Gerry Lane Premier Exhibitor Award program at a ceremony held on Feb. 17, 2018. From left, Saundra Lane, representing Gerry Lane Enterprises; Breann Keowen, of West Baton Rouge Parish; Maggie Brian, of East Feliciana Parish; Luke Seguin, of Livingston Parish; Maci Schexnayder, of Ascension Parish; Paycen Brouillette, of West Feliciana Parish; Ethan Coker, of Claiborne Parish; and LSU Vice President for Agriculture Bill Richardson.
To promote higher ethical standards in youth development educational programming, the LSU AgCenter Livestock Show developed the Premier Exhibitor Awards to reward outstanding livestock exhibitors. The primary goal in developing this contest was to shift the emphasis from the animal to the exhibitors’ knowledge about their livestock project.
The first competition was scheduled for the 1999 LSU AgCenter State Livestock Show, and with the generous support from Gerry Lane, of Gerry Lane Enterprises, it became known as the Gerry Lane Premier Exhibitor Awards.
“This is the generation of people that will keep this country the great country that it is,” Lane said of the livestock exhibitors. “Many of them have become successful in their adult lives, and it started when they were young and learned the discipline of taking care of animals. We want to support these deserving young people. That’s our primary goal.”
The Gerry Lane Premier Exhibitor Awards recognize 40 young people each year who compete in a series of evaluations to determine their knowledge and skill level within their livestock project work. Five outstanding young people compete in species divisions, which include beef cattle, swine, poultry, sheep, goats, horses, rabbits and dairy cattle. Through an original $60,000 donation to the LSU Foundation and several subsequent donations, Gerry Lane Enterprises provides awards for youth who exhibit knowledge, skill and communication ability.
The Premier Exhibitor Awards have stood the test of time, with hundreds of youth participating in this competition each year. The competition tests exhibitors’ livestock project knowledge, including nutrition, anatomy, equipment, breed identification and meat identification. The competitors are evaluated on their prior livestock project work, written examination, skills evaluation and showmanship, with the finalists being interviewed by industry representatives. The exhibitor that excels in the end is named the Premier Exhibitor each year.
The 2018 LSU AgCenter State Livestock Show Premier Exhibitor contest continued its pursuit to find the top exhibitors. The 2018 contest included elite exhibitors in each species, with 22 students competing in beef, 16 in dairy, 26 in goat, 22 in poultry, 12 in sheep, 26 in swine and 12 in the horse project.
This article appears in the Louisiana 4-H 2019 Annual Report.