Down in Perry at the Georgia National Fair’s Junior Livestock shows, these young dairy cow exhibitors are finally getting the chance to showcase months of time and energy that’s gone into getting their calves show ready– a true testament of the power of hard work, dedication, and teamwork, as about two-thirds of these kids are new to an exploding livestock program in Whitfield County.
“All of a sudden it’s boomed. We’ve gone from five or six or seven in sometimes eight calves that are being shown, to this year, it’s looking like thirteen, fourteen, seventeen, eighteen, nineteen. We’re not exactly sure where it’s going to stop, but it has been something that’s been really popular because of the family involvement and other family members see it and other friends see it and it’s just kind of exploded because they see the fun and the benefit of the project,” says Janet Robbins, Agriculture Teacher at Northwest Whitfield High School.
Due to them seeing such new involvement, they’ve had to get creative and did so by working together; both kids and families to teach, train, and practice before the show season got underway, which according to Greta Beckler, who has two kids showing this year, is what has made it so special and rewarding this season and is what has proved that it certainly does in fact take a village.
“In livestock showing, it takes a village. We arrive at the barn early in the morning and we’ll have some people designated to bring breakfast, but then we’ll have other kids here that are they’re immediately feeding the calves in the morning together and making sure that they’ve got plenty of hay and water and parents are involved. Also, we’re constantly clipping and grooming the calves, we’re constantly looking at our friends around and how can we help? And it’s just an incredible service opportunity and it really is a village that comes together to make this happen,” says Greta Beckler, livestock exhibitor parent.
To Beckler, that’s what makes livestock showing so appealing, as she says watching all of the families and kids come together is a special sight to see and is something she says is truly unique to livestock exhibiting.
“There’s an element of uniqueness to showing livestock that we’ve just fallen in love with. Our kids have been able to join this group of other kids and adults in learning how to care for these animals and just being responsible for the animals, but then also being responsible for carrying themselves and being able to speak to adults in the ring, in the arena. But it’s also an element of service toward each other. We serve each other in making sure the animals are fed. It may not be that we just take care of our calf, but maybe we’re helping somebody else. And so, there’s this part of this that you don’t get with any other activity,” says Beckler.
To Robbins, in the end, that’s what it’s all about. Yes, of course, she loves to watch them show and compete well in arena but to her, watching them work hard and help each other along the way is by far the most important part.
“Watching the kids help each other, watching the kids say, ‘oh, wait a minute, I’ll go back and get the water hose for you’ or ‘Hey, you’re almost up. Let me help you get ready’. When these might not have been kids that would have never had this opportunity. And to watch these kids that normally wouldn’t be even in the same school to be together and helping each other out and kind of having their tasks in order. I love those partnerships, those friendships and all hands on deck,” says Robbins.
By: John Holcomb