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The Weekly News Source for Wyoming's Ranchers, Farmers and AgriBusiness Community

The Best Of The Best

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Fair and rodeo season has started in our region and we’re happy to see it. It is a great time of the year to visit with others. With all the issues affecting us, it is good to have some enjoyment. 

The timeframe between the first county fair and the Wyoming State Fair takes close to six weeks – it’s a busy six weeks. I think the best times are the livestock shows, especially the 4-H and FFA shows. The youth participating are easy to recognize. 

They are not sitting in a corner with their iPhones, they are working with their livestock and other projects. They resemble young business people during this time and their livestock and projects are their investment. For some, it pays for more livestock, and for most others, it helps pay for college.

Throughout the years, 4-H and FFA have helped numerous youth in America become great citizens and prosperous business people. Learning to manage livestock and money at a young age provides a great advantage later in life.

The 4-H program was founded around 1912, and for years most of its members were associated with agriculture. Today, this is not the case as 4-H has diversified its programs to meet the needs of urban youth. It has grown with the times. 

There are roughly 6.5 million 4-H members across America. Its members, from five to 19 years old, belong to over 90,000 clubs across America. 

The goal of 4-H is to develop citizenship, leadership, responsibility and life skills of youth through experiential learning programs and a positive youth development approach. 4-H is a U.S.-based network of youth organizations whose mission is to engage youth to reach their full potential while advancing the field of youth development. This goal and mission, along with strong club leadership and dedicated parents, has made 4-H a success all these years.

FFA was founded in 1928 to provide boys in agriculture learning experiences of ag. Today, there are around 735,038 members in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. There is around a 50-50 match of boys and girls and a diverse and inclusive value to fit all races in America. 

Since 2010, FFA has seen a near 30 percent increase in membership, averaging over 22,000 new members annually. On average, there are 92 members per chapter. 

We all recognize the blue jackets of the FFA. There are probably a huge number in closets across the U.S. that haven’t been worn in many years, myself included. These blue corduroy jackets were adopted as official dress in 1933. Now, 87 years later, the tradition continues. 

In 1930, the first official dress uniform was a dark blue shirt, blue or white pants, blue cap and yellow tie. Currently, more than 50,000 jackets are manufactured annually.

In the beginning of the organization, dues were 10 cents per year. Dues have gone up since 1928 to seven dollars a year today. What a bargain for all the community leadership and business sense learned throughout the years. 

We all can be very proud of both 4-H and FFA members, past and present in our communities today. They are the future of our nation. We thank the parents, 4-H leaders, chapter advisors, Extension and land grant colleges across the nation for making these youth great citizens.  

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