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Fair prep isn’t just for exhibitors

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Preparation for Wyoming county fairs is currently in full swing. 

And, while youth exhibitors and their families spend countless hours in the barn working with livestock projects or perfecting a recipe for the exhibit hall, Extension educators across the state are working just as hard behind the scenes.  

Sweetwater County Extension

Sweetwater County 4-H Youth Development Extension Educator Marty Henry has fond feelings toward and an extensive history with county fairs. 

In fact, she has been involved since the age of eight, exhibiting a number of different projects including market beef, market hogs and market lambs, along with various food and visual arts projects. 

She also competed in livestock judging.

Marty explains after high school, she obtained a scholarship to Casper College and then Texas A&M University for livestock judging. She knew she wanted to continue in agriculture education after school, so she became an ag science and FFA advisor in Texas. 

She later moved back home to Wyoming and took the 4-H educator position in Sweetwater County in 2015, after her former 4-H educator contacted her with the opportunity. 

Today, Marty continues to help youth pave their future through 4-H programs. After working in this position for eight years, Marty says she plans to continue educating the exhibitors in Sweetwater County for a while longer. 

4-H and FFA provide lifelong benefits 

There is no doubt being involved in 4-H and FFA has numerous, lifelong benefits. Marty notes this list is endless, but the biggest two lessons are respect and responsibility. 

She states, “There is a huge opportunity of skill sets to be learned in 4-H – from animal husbandry to engineering, networking and fine arts. Travel is another huge aspect – 4-H allows kids to get out and see the world, meet new people, spend time in different communities and learn new things.”

“I would also say speaking skills are fine tuned in this program, usually without many kids even knowing. But, the biggest thing I’d like to point out is there are so many ways for kids to learn and to earn educational opportunities, such as scholarships to attend college and make way for a future they will enjoy,” she adds.

Marty is a prime example of how fair offers far more than showing livestock in a ring. She reiterates how much 4-H and FFA have helped her through life and explains numerous life skills exhibitors learn and retain through the program. 

She believes by being a 4-H member and/or FFA member, youth are already a step ahead in life. 

Marty also believes county fair is a snapshot of the ag industry’s future, stating one thing that continues to strengthen and build agriculture’s future is the work 4-H and FFA exhibitors do year-round. She believes the skills these kids are learning is crucial to the future of ag. 

True meaning behind fair 

Marty states, “Fair means celebration, a culmination for kids to show off what they do and work hard at every day. It is also a time for families to get together and have a sort of ‘vacation.’” 

Marty highly encourages exhibitors to dig deep to understand the underlying education and lifelong lessons that come with being involved in 4-H and FFA, as well as to step out of comfort zones to learn new skills. 

She also expresses how important it is to continue working hard and to never give up, because one day all of the hard work will pay off. 

Preslee Fitzwater is an intern for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

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