After attending National 4-H Congress last year and hearing countless 4-H stories from teens across the country, I came home with a new goal in mind: to complete my first animal project in 4-H. Up until this year, I had only focused on what I like to call the, “indoor aspects of 4-H.” Sewing, cooking, and leadership were my main project focuses, but I was ready to get my hands dirty and learn about a completely different aspect of 4-H that I had never explored.Through connections in my county extension office, I was able to lease an Angus heifer from my county livestock educator in
. Starting in February, I traveled to her barn once a week and learned how to take care of beef animals and I learned how her beef production operated. Before February, I knew absolutely nothing about livestock, but I sure was eager to learn! Teaching me how to take care and prepare to show my heifer, was like trying to teach an eight year old how to sew. Everything had to be broken down to simple terms so I would understand. Chester County
All of my preparation from February on went into the Chester County Summer Beef Show in June. In June, I was a bundle of nerves, and so was my heifer, but I felt like we both learned a lot that day. That experience in the small show was so beneficial and it helped me be better prepared for the larger livestock show at our fair in August.
For me, a typical
4-H fair honestly
wasn’t that special. I would prepare my garment that I sewed to be on display,
finish up a scrapbook, make a display on 4-H camp or on leadership, and ship
everything off to be entered. Yes, I visited the fair once or twice during the
week and took a tour around the displays and the animals in the barn, but I
never stayed more than a few hours. This year was completely different,
however. Since I had to take care of my heifer, and help my barn partner take
care of his two steers, I was at the fair as much as possible. I felt like I
was constantly feeding, washing, walking, and looking after the animals for the
three days that the livestock animals are at the fair. Certainly it was a lot
of work at times, but it was one-hundred percent worth it. I left the fair
saying, “I can’t wait for next year!” I learned so many new skills pertaining
to how to work with animals. I gained a new appreciation for 4-Hers in the
livestock program. I met numerous families in the Chester
livestock program who were so kind and patient when working with me. Chester County
Starting a new 4-H project in your later years in 4-H isn’t that common, but boy, am I sure glad I did! My 4-H Angus heifer project that I completed this year is probably my most memorable 4-H project I’ve ever accomplished because I did it out of my own desire and without the ability to fall back on my parents’ knowledge and assistance; I had to rely on other adults and my peers who were experienced in the livestock program.
All in all, I could not be more thrilled that I made a bold move and went outside of my comfort zone and started a new 4-H project. I can’t wait to see what this next year has in store for me. Who knows, maybe I’ll add another livestock animal to my list of 4-H project accomplishments.
I hope you are enjoying this beautiful fall weather!
“Never be afraid to try something new. Remember that a lone amateur built the
Ark. A large group of professionals built the Titanic.” –Dave Barry