Teton County 4-Hers participate in Quality Assurance Program with livestock projects
Jackson – The Teton County Fair bustled with activity on the morning of July 28 as 4-Hers showed their hogs and prepared their lambs for the afternoon contests.
When 4-H agent Kelli Kilpatrick arrived in Teton County five years ago, the 4-H leader started a Quality Assurance Program for all livestock projects in the county.
Teton County 4-H Intern Christina Irion sums up the Quality Assurance Program, saying, “It’s a three-hour workshop that 4-H members attend to learn about what’s good and bad for their animals. They learn about pretty much everything associated with caring for a market project.”
4-Hers showing beef, sheep, hogs and goats have the opportunity to attend the Quality Assurance workshop.
According to a publication by Teton County 4-H about the program, “4-H members who have attended the workshop have made the promise: ‘The food from my livestock will be the highest possible quality and I will do everything I can to make the product safe to eat.’”
Ten-year 4-H member Jed Christensen has been showing hogs and steers since he was eight years old and notes, “It’s really a good thing, and helps people know that you have taken care of your animal and gone the extra mile to make sure you have a good project.”
Along with approximately 50 other Teton County 4-H members, Christensen attended a Quality Assurance workshop this year.
“Basically, it helps you get a better understanding of how to take care of your animal at fair,” says Christensen. “You go from class to class, learning about all types of animals, in case you decide to show more than one.”
Christensen adds that the workshop also covers showmanship strategies, how to prepare for the fair and how to treat your animal both in and out of the show ring.
While the Quality Assurance Program helps to maintain integrity of all 4-H animals, younger 4-H members, such as 12-year-old Mason Hortsmann, gain an understand of how to start caring for market livestock.
This year, Mason and 17-year-old brother August showed steers for the first time in the 4-H program.
“It means that I am assuring quality for all the buyers,” says Mason. “They know that we fed them good grain everyday, and they didn’t get sick from anything we have done.”
4-Hers attending the workshop also learned how to manage their animals when preparing for showmanship. August adds, “It also covered how to treat your calves and correct them in a good way when you’re training them to show.”
While August has been showing for a while outside of 4-H, he learned new things as well through the workshop
“I learned tips on how to give a proper injection if I need to, such as where to give it to not damage any of the meat,” says August. “We also learned about the different cuts of meat.”
Both Horstmann brothers competed in the market beef show July 29 at the Teton County Fair and hoped to see positive feedback from the hard work they have put into their projects.
“Quality Assurance has really helped the program, because it has given the kids an awareness of what the buyer is looking for in an animal and how to raise a quality animal,” says 16-year 4-H leader Gayle Roosevelt.
After completing the Quality Assurance workshop, members are presented with a certificate they can display over their stalls during county fair, says Irion.
The Teton County 4-H program also encourages members to put together display boards to hang over their stalls during the week featuring the name, breed and weight of their animal to provide information for prospective buyers.
This year the Teton County Fair featured nearly 36 steers, 20 lambs, 40 hogs and one breeding goat from the small 4-H program.
“We also try to reiterate the ‘Character Counts’ standards all throughout our county fair,” says Irion, who is in her second year as the Teton County 4-H intern.
As the fair prepared to close, 4-Hers will finish showing their animals and prepare for the livestock auction on the evening of July 29. At the livestock auction, 4-Hers who have completed the Quality Assurance workshop are recognized before they sell.
Outside the 4-H livestock shows, fair goers not associated with agriculture have the opportunity to learn a little bit more in Ag-ventureland. The hands-on outdoor exhibit boasts a number of stations for young people to learn about agriculture, including a roping demonstration, crops and a cow-milking demonstration. This exhibit provides just one of the ways for Teton County citizens and visitors to learn about agriculture.
A week of hard work and fun for Teton County 4-Hers is nearing its close, and their hard work, including efforts put into assuring the quality of their market animal, will soon be rewarded. Look for the high-quality market projects at the upcoming Wyoming State Fair in Douglas in mid-August.
Saige Albert is assistant editor at the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.