Livestock Shows: Role of Youth in the Livestock Industry
Dr. Mario A. Villarino, County Extension Agent in Hopkins County
Today we live in a communication highway. We learn from success and failure every day. It only takes a quick glance of public media to get massive amounts of information, readily available 24/7. Many industries get scrutinized and criticized publicly often, and the agricultural industry is not an exemption. The damage of negative public media, intentional or not, can be devastating to any industry. Many companies and industries never recover from public condemnation. Texas has the largest number of 4-H and FFA livestock projects in the nation. Young people participate at the county, district, regional and state level. The tremendous support and dedication of livestock show officials help make this possible. With this opportunity comes a responsibility for each exhibitor to learn and demonstrate the highest standards, both in personal character and in the feeding and care of their animals. “Quality Counts” is designed to teach young people the importance of displaying good character in carrying out livestock projects, and in every aspect of their lives. “Quality Counts” helps them learn the importance of using proper livestock management practices so that food quality and safety are preserved. Your participation in “Quality Counts” helps ensure that Texas 4-H and FFA members can continue to be a part of the greatest youth livestock program in the nation.
Starting in 2012, Quality Counts verification will be required for all youth exhibiting livestock (market and/or breeding) at major livestock shows in Texas (including the Ft. Worth Livestock Show, San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo, Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, Star of Texas Fair in Austin, San Angelo Livestock Show, Sandhills Stock Show in Odessa, State Fair of Texas in Dallas, and Heart O’ Texas Fair in Waco). The verification process will require junior exhibitors to pass an online test that measures their knowledge on quality assurance and character education content items. The Quality Counts Program has now been in existence statewide for six years. Over this time, it has reached an average of 30,000 youth per year through the 4-H and FFA Programs. The program outcomes clearly demonstrate youth being more knowledgeable of best management practices associated with livestock projects.
More importantly, the program’s impact has demonstrated positive changes in personal character attributes as well as adoption of livestock best management practices. Over these six years, Quality Counts has been supported and endorsed by every major livestock show in Texas. These livestock shows have been instrumental in helping market the program statewide and have also been a strong partner regarding the educational content developed for the Quality Counts Program. In addition, these livestock shows have fully endorsed this verification process. Starting in May, youth are able to go online to take the test and become verified. A verification number will need to be provided at the time of making an official entry into a Texas major livestock show. Thus, youth will need to have completed and passed the test before the major livestock show’s entry deadline. A passing score has been determined to be 80%. Youth educators and the major livestock shows in Texas believe strongly in Quality Counts. Collectively, they are confident that this significant step of requiring youth to be “Quality Counts Verified,” starting in 2012, will strengthen and enhance the youth livestock program in Texas. For more information, please contact your Hopkins County Extension Agent by calling 903-885-3443 or Agriculture Science Teacher. To learn more about Quality Counts including the verification process, please visit: http://qualitycounts.tamu.edu/.