Wood County 4-H, Blennerhassett FFA wrangling livestock sale themselves this year
MINERAL WELLS — The 4-H and Future Farmers of America livestock sales will be moving forward this summer on their own.
The WVU Extension Service and the Blennerhassett FFA announced the Wood County 4-H and FFA Summer Showcase will be held July 18-24 at the Wood County 4-H Campgrounds on Butcher Bend Road in Mineral Wells.
The week will be an opportunity for 4-H and FFA youth to showcase and share their talents, extension officials said.
“We’re going back to our roots,” said Jodi Smith, WVU Extension Service 4-H youth development agent. “For decades the 4-H, FFA and WVU Extension programs exhibited their projects at the 4-H Campgrounds. It feels like we’re going home.”
Last November, local extension and agriculture leaders told the Wood County Commission they could no longer participate in the West Virginia Interstate Fair and Exposition because of a change in the date of the event.
County officials were informed the fair was moving the event from mid-to-late July to mid-to-late June. The fair is scheduled for June 22-26.
Officials were told the new date would help increase attendance at the fair which is held on the Butcher Bend Road fairgrounds.
However, the new date would cause problems for the annual 4-H Camp held across from the fairgrounds as many participants would have conflicting events. Other issues occurred with groups already securing the 4-H grounds for other events during a busy summer schedule, which prevented moving the date of the camp.
The new fair dates also did not allow local youth the time they needed to have their animals ready to show.
Local WVU extension officials said they respected the fair board’s decision, but decided they would have to do their shows at the best time for their participants.
“We plan to have fun and educational activities for 4-H and FFA members and their families to engage in during the week,” Smith said.
The kickoff year of this event will have to follow guidelines in place due to COVID-19.
“Following guidelines in place at the time, we will make accommodations to ensure the public and extended family get to participate by offering both in-person and virtual views of our shows and exhibits,” Smith said.
The Wood County 4-H and Blennerhassett FFA have an exciting week of activities planned for 4-H and FFA members and their families.
Youth will exhibit livestock projects throughout the week, participating in market classes and showmanship with their rabbits, sheep, goats, hogs, cattle, horses, chickens and turkeys.
More than 80 youth in Wood County are learning hands-on life skills through livestock projects with nearly 150 4-H and FFA animals to be exhibited throughout the week at the 4-H Campgrounds.
“We are excited about the Summer Showcase,” said J.J. Barrett, WVU Extension Agriculture Agent. “Our youth work very hard caring for their animals and preparing for the livestock shows.
“Young people need clear expectations, guidance, someone to believe in them and the opportunity to explore, excel, and contribute. 4-H delivers on these demands. Youth practice showing their animals and learn responsibility by daily routines of feeding, watering and grooming their livestock.”
Plans are still being worked on and finalized.
“The main goal of the Summer Showcase is to provide a venue for our WVU Extension and FFA program participants to exhibit their work,” Barrett said.
The Blennerhassett FFA Chapter has 51 members involved in classroom and lab instruction. Members learn animal processing, greenhouse operations and tractor restoration at the school.
The Wood County Junior Livestock Program is dedicated to teaching 4-H and FFA members “Skills for Life” through the Animal Science Series, a national program.
“This program has taught me more valuable skills than I would have learned anywhere else. I have learned responsibility and money management raising and selling animals through 4-H and FFA,” said Haleigh Kent from the Blennerhassett FFA. Haleigh was also a member of the Rebels 4-H Club.
Educational activities for the 4-H and FFA Livestock Program are still the heart of the Showcase. Livestock skillathons provide a valuable educational experience for youth, offering a framework for kids to learn about a variety of topics related to the production and management of beef cattle, meat goats, sheep and swine.
Participants learn about different breeds of livestock, external parts, skeletal anatomy, feedstuffs used in livestock diets, livestock equipment and wholesale and retail cuts of meat.
Livestock judging helps youth to develop skills in the areas of decision-making, critical thinking, oral reasoning, self-confidence and problem solving. Youth evaluate a class of four animals and then answer questions on their placings, measuring them against an industry standard.
The Austin Shawver Master Showmanship Contest, named in memory of long-time 4-H member Austin Shawver, provides participants who win grand champion senior showman in each livestock species division an opportunity to compete for a $1,000 scholarship.
The highlight of the Summer Showcase week will be the 4-H/FFA Youth Livestock Sale, scheduled for noon July 24. After a brief awards ceremony, animals are individually sold to the highest bidder.
Business owners and other leaders of the community will come out to support youth by purchasing market hogs, market steers, feeder calves, market lambs and goats, poultry and rabbits.
“Many youth save the money from their 4-H and FFA projects and use the funds to pay for college tuition” said Ryan Vaughn, president of the 4-H and FFA Livestock Sale Committee. “Community support is vital to the continuing success of the 4-H and FFA Livestock Program. Investment in our youth is a great asset to Wood County and the state of West Virginia.”
For more information about the Wood County 4-H and FFA Summer Showcase, people can contact the Wood County WVU Extension Office at (304) 424-1960.