4-H members taking more animal projects
for Tri-State Livestock News
Across the region, the fair season is coming to a close and 4-H members will be preparing to sign up for new projects shortly. Montana has seen a positive shift in the enrollment in 4-H over the last few years. The overall number of 4-H members hasn’t increased or decreased dramatically but the number of 4-H’ers in the animal barns has gone up. With a concern about the youth who are involved in agriculture today, this increase should put a smile on your face. The animal science portion of 4-H includes everything from pocket pets to horseless horse and beef to rabbits.
More 4-H’ers are willing and excited to spend all winter and spring combing, washing and fitting a steer, lamb or hog. Gallatin County has almost double the number of steers this year compared to a few years ago. Alec Haughian, a 4-H’er in Prairie County has taken a steer to the fair for many years now. When asked why he participates in the livestock project, his response was simple, “I raise them to learn and develop better skills for my future.”
Allie Nelson an active 4-H’er from Great Falls, Mont., in Cascade County has excelled in the beef project for years. According to Allie, “I raise cattle to learn about the industry and to be a productive component of society with raising beef cattle.”
Another new and exciting change in Montana 4-H is the number of 4-H’ers raising and showing goats. With an increase in the goat meat market, goats are becoming a popular 4-H project. Dana Dale from Teton County has a little different opinion on the livestock projects in 4-H. She said, “I was always involved in the sale end of the livestock projects. As a teen leader for Teton County I was the grunt in the sale barn lining kids up and herding them to and from the ring, running the pig boards and calling bids. I found that I got as much satisfaction from being the logistics of the livestock project as I did being an actual seller. It was working with leaders and members in the county that made me want to pursue a career in agriculture education and ag business to continue being a part of the future of agriculture.”
The beauty of 4-H is that there are many different projects for youth to take, everything from cooking and sewing to hogs and steers to photography and horticulture. Corbin Surber from Gallatin County sums it up well by saying, “I raise animals in 4-H because it builds a sense of leadership and responsibility, and it is also a great way to build people skills and public speaking skills. Also I love being around animals and helping the younger members with their projects as well.”
4-H is an important part of youth development in Montana and the animal science project is a prime example. 4-H teaches responsibility, hard work and dedication which in turns creates leaders for the future.