Hard work yields success for Park County 4-Her
Cody – With over 10 years of showing experience, Park County 4-H and FFA member Carter Nielsen of Cody says that after his first successful endeavor, he has been motivated to achieve the best.
“I started showing pigs when I was eight-years-old,” says Nielsen. “My dad motivated me to be in 4-H, and in my first two years I did pretty well.”
After seeking help from community members Jaimie and Michael Martin in 2005, Nielsen notes that his winning streak started.
“I ended up winning the show that year, and I haven’t lost 4-H showmanship since then,” he says. “That year, I found the motivation to keep getting better every year.”
Long days and hard work
“The most special thing that I do is walk them every day for almost a mile,” Nielsen explains, adding that it is also important to build trust early. “It takes 40 minutes to walk them every night.”
“I start out when they are young and try to get them used to the whip,” he continues. “The first couple weeks are critical as far as entering their trust.”
Nielsen gains the trust of his hogs by picking their front feet off the ground and says, “Today, with a 280 pound pig, I can pick her up, and she doesn’t care.”
He also says that treating his hogs as good as possible and getting them to like him is also important. He also pays special attention to making their living conditions comfortable.
Nielsen has seen success in market hog classes as well, and this year, he exhibited the grand champion lightweight hog, the grand champion heavyweight hog, and the overall grand champion market hog.
“This year is my fourth year of winning grand champion market hog in the last 10 years,” adds Nielsen.
“Mr. Wiant has really been helpful over the years,” he says of his FFA advisor. “He really helped me out with picking a good pig.”
Aside from working with his hogs, Nielsen carries a full time job in excavation, working over 40 hours each week in the summer.
“I’m up at five, so I can walk my pigs in the morning,” Nielsen says. “I don’t get home until six or later.”
Despite his busy schedule, Nielsen continues to focus on raising high-quality hogs.
State fair wins
For Nielsen, hard work has resulted in not only wins at the county level, but also at State Fair.
“The last two years, I have won in 4-H showmanship at state fair,” says Nielsen. “I haven’t been able to win FFA yet.”
With unending perseverance, Nielsen says he will compete again this year and hopes to win.
He has also performed in the market hog classes and adds, “Two years ago I won Champion of Champions with my hog, and I’ll be competing in that again this year.”
Nielsen’s involvement in FFA also includes leadership activities, where he recently served as the president of the Buffalo Bill FFA Chapter.
“I’ve been really active in planning almost every event every year of my FFA career,” he says. “I have also been the president of C.A.N. since I was a sophomore.”
C.A.N., which stands for Changing Attitudes Now, is an anti-drug organization that started 15 years ago in Cody. Last year, Nielsen served as president of the 10- to 15-member board of students that puts on events to promote healthy living.
“It keeps kids off illegal drugs and motivates them to live a better, healthier life,” Nielsen explains. “It’s been a great organization for me.”
After graduating this year, Nielsen will be continuing his education at the University of Wyoming and plans to study wildlife biology.
“I really like being outdoors, and that is where I want my job to be,” he says. “It’s going to be weird leaving Cody, but UW will be really fun and something new.”
Despite leaving for the school year, Nielsen is also interested in continuing to help in the 4-H program in Park County.
“I plan on helping out kids around here next year,” Nielsen says. “I’ll help anyone who asks.”
He also hopes to work with Troy Wiant, the Buffalo Bill FFA advisor, to host a clinic for 4-H and FFA members.
“I’ve spent a lot of time in 4-H and FFA, and it’s definitely well worth it,” says Nielsen. “If I could tell people one thing, I’d tell them to join 4-H right away, because it’s really great, and it helps you become a more well-rounded person.”
Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at email@example.com.