TENNERTON — You can’t leave a pig in its pen and expect it to prosper.
Eighteen-year-old Kelsey Burgess knows the drill.
“You have to feed them and water them and take care of them,” Burgess, an incoming freshman at West Virginia University, said Saturday at the annual 4-H and FFA Youth Livestock Show at Buckhannon-Upshur High. “You definitely have to get them out of their pens and work with them. Working with them in the summer is key. You really have to get to know your hog so you can show the judges the best aspects of it.”
And before the show, Burgess said she had to wash and shave her 236-pound hog, which she acquired in April. Burgess was one of approximately 45 members of 4-H and FFA aged 9 to 21 who were there to showcase their hogs, lambs, goats, market steers, rabbits, chickens (poultry) and bees (honey) at the youth livestock show, which takes places on the first weekend in August annually, said Tasha Harris, WVU agriculture and natural resources extension agent.
Prepping their animals for the show and subsequent sale — slated for 6 p.m. that evening — teaches members 4-H and FFA invaluable life skills, Harris said.
“This provides an opportunity for them to showcase their project that they’ve worked so hard on for the past couple months,” Harris said. “In the case of market steers, that’s a full year commitment. It teaches them to build a relationship with the animal, to be responsible, as well as marketing skills, money management and basic care of the animal. It teaches them life skills they aren’t going to learn in the classroom.”
Craig Presar, WVU extension agent for 4-H and youth development, agreed that taking care of animals teaches students to honor commitments.
“It gives them experience in the (agriculture) industry, and even if they aren’t planning to go into farming, they learn discipline and commitment,” Presar said. “It isn’t something you can just do one weekend. The kids that are successful are the ones that work year-round.”
Twenty-year-old Cole Payne is committed. An upcoming junior at WVU, Payne has been involved in 4-H for 11 years. He was at Saturday’s show to present three animals — a hog, a goat and a steer.
“I really like the competition aspect of it,” Payne said. “Preparation for this day has been a long time coming. There’s got to be trust between you and the animal. They can pick up on human emotions really easily, so if you’re nervous, the animal’s going to be nervous, but if you’re calm and ready to go, the animal will be, too.
“At the end of the day, though, it’s a business,” Payne added. “You put money and effort into it, and you’ve got to make sure you’ve got more money coming in than money going out.”
Payne hopes to earn a master’s degree in agriculture education and would like to one day be an extension agent. Burgess has her eye on veterinary school.
By the end of Saturday’s show, judges selected an overall winner for each species, an overall winner for showmanship in the junior category (ages 9-13) and an overall winner for showmanship in the senior category (ages 14-21).
Harris urged students potentially interested in agriculture and farming to check out next year’s show.
“I definitely encourage anybody who’s never seen this to come out and see it,” she said. “It doesn’t take a great big farm to raise these animals, so anyone who’s interested should call me.”
Harris can be reached at 304-473-4208.
Results from Saturday’s show are as follows:
2017 Upshur County Youth Livestock Show and Sale Results
Honey: Grand Champion Garrett Butler, Reserve Grand Champion Haylee Rice
Market Steer: Grand Champion Kassidy Kimble, Reserve Grand Champion Ivy Ward
Market Hog: Grand Champion Grace Queen, Reserve Grand Champion Kassidy Kimble
Market Lamb: Grand Champion Kennedy Samargo, Reserve Grand Champion Kennedy Samargo
Market Goat: Grand Champion Kennedy Samargo, Reserve Grand Champion Lukas Samargo
Market Rabbit: Grand Champion Laikelyn Leggett, Reserve Grand Champion Katie Nolan
Eggs: Grand Champion Savannah Reed, Reserve Grand Champion Madison Reed
Junior Beef Champion Showmanship: Kari Gay
Senior Beef Champion Showmanship: Ivy Ward
Junior Hog Champion Showmanship: Maggie Queen
Senior Hog Champion Showmanship: Kassidy Kimble
Junior Lamb Champion Showmanship: Laikelyn Leggett
Senior Lamb Champion Showmanship: Ivy Ward
Junior Goat Champion Showmanship: Maggie Queen
Senior Goat Champion Showmanship: Lukas Samargo
Junior Rabbit Champion Showmanship: Katie Nolan
Senior Rabbit Champion Showmanship: Lindsay Bever
Premier Exhibitor Awards
Rabbit: Lindsay Bever
Poultry: Kaylie Hamner
Beef: Kassidy Kimble
Lamb: Kelsey Burgess
Goat: Kassidy Kimble
Hog: Kelsey Burgess