Icy learning

first_imgBy Mike IsbellUniversity of GeorgiaI don’t drink coffee at night. But I did at the State LivestockShow at the Georgia National Fairground in Perry, Ga.That was the night north Georgia got snow, west Georgia got mixedsnow and sleet and Perry got ice-cold rain. Even with thermalunderwear, sweater, insulated coat, rain parka and a hat on, Ithought I was going to freeze to death.But I wasn’t the only one freezing.Almost 2,000 4-H Club and FFA members from all over Georgia wereat the livestock show from Wednesday through Sunday. They wereshowing some beautiful cattle, sheep and, if you can call a hogbeautiful, hogs.And they were all cold.Chilly jobMy job Wednesday night was helping check in more than 600breeding heifers. I spent about 3 hours sitting in a huge metalbarn, checking the registration papers and ear tattoos of blackAngus, red Angus, Charolais and Hereford show cattle. Othercattle breeds were checked in the same way.If the tattoo number on the registration paper matched the numberin the heifer’s ear and the registration paper and entry formmatched, the 4-H or FFA member owning that heifer got acontestant number to compete in the breeding heifer show onThursday and Friday.In all, 279 steers, 221 dairy heifers, 77 breeding ewes, and1,300 hogs were checked into the show on Wednesday and Thursday.In spite of the cold rain, these 4-H and FFA members kept givingtheir animals the best of care through the weekend. Even the rainand mud didn’t stop them from looking after them.Valuable lessonsThat kind of responsibility is part of the learning process inthis project. Kids learn to faithfully provide for the animals intheir care, even when conditions make that hard.Training animals for the show teaches them the value ofconsistency and persistence, too. And the fact that the kids haveto look after another living creature teaches them that we, ashumans, are responsible for this world we live in. They learn tobe good stewards of the earth.Kids learn to get along with each other, too. They pitch in andhelp each other out, partly because they learn that getting beatis part of growing up. Their time to win will come, even if itisn’t in the show ring.Livestock projects teach kids the kinds of things that will helpkeep this world a nice place for their kids to live.My hat’s off to all of these young people in the livestockproject. Well, except for that Wednesday night in that cold barn.(Mike Isbell is the Heard County Extension Coordinator withthe University of Georgia College of Agricultural andEnvironmental Sciences.)last_img

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