Remember learning how to ride a bike or drive a car? At the beginning I was nervous and had little confidence in my abilities. At times I even wondered if it was a good idea! With practice and help from others, I eventually got a good handle on things. Now I’m a pro at riding a bike (with no hands!) and driving a car (while jamming to my favorite tune—that’s not just me, right?).
This same experience happens when kids show livestock.
If you’re not familiar with what’s involved with showing livestock or why folks do it, let me explain. Basically, a kid is tasked with the responsibility of purchasing or raising an animal and caring, loving and training it to be shown at an event like a fair or livestock show. At the event, the youth presents the animal to showcase its best physical features to a judge. The judge then ranks each animal by species on structure, muscle and quality, as well as the youth on their ability to show the animal.
Showing livestock provides kids a sense of community, teaches important values and expands their horizons.
I’m also grateful for the skills I developed. I learned the value of hard work, perseverance and the skill of not being a sore loser (or winner). It takes a lot of time and experience to refine many of the skills needed for success, but I believe livestock showing gives kids a leg up when they venture out into the real world. It did for me.
My favorite thing about livestock showing is the opportunity it gives kids to expand their interest in agriculture. A lot people don’t know this, but you don’t have to live on a farm to show livestock or join 4-H and FFA. If your kids are genuinely interested in nature, animals or agriculture (or at least learning more about those things), I would encourage them to join an organization to learn and explore.
Participating in livestock showing certainly provided me a wealth of opportunities and experiences. I recently caught up with kids across the state to see what their experiences were like. I hope you enjoy hearing what they had to say. If you haven’t had the opportunity to visit your county fair or check out the Kansas State Fair animals, I hope you do now!
I caught up with some kids participating in county fairs across the state this summer and asked why they enjoy showing. Here's what they said.
Why do you show?
Senior, Montgomery County
“Nothing can beat hard work. When you just put your head down and keep working hard and don’t give up, you can make a lot of different things happen”
Junior, Montgomery County
“You have to be responsible, you can’t just sit around.”
Intermediate, Montgomery County
“It teaches kids responsibility. There is more than just being inside; it gets you outside and you get to learn about the animals.”
Junior, Butler County
“It’s hard work. You have to get up early in the morning and feed and work with them every day to achieve your goals.”
Senior, Pottawatomie County
“Showing has taught me how to work hard and take pride in what I am doing.”
Senior, Pottawatomie County
“Some of the most hardworking, talented, and successful people show livestock and are involved in the industry.”