by Henry Kempfer
February makes me think of our youth. FFA and 4-H projects, Junior Cattlemen events, and collegiate livestock judging are all wonderful programs. There are also many youth fairs all over the state that support livestock activities.
These all create excellent opportunities for youngsters to get more engaged in animal agriculture. Ranch kids can’t get too much experience when it comes to building their knowledge, and adding to their leadership skills. This also gives them excellent opportunities to teach and help others that don’t get the exposure to livestock and are truly interested in learning more about our industry. Not to mention the added responsibilities that come with these projects.
Our Junior Cattlemen’s association has been extremely successful and has grown substantially over the past few years. Their last cattle show held in Kissimmee was the largest yet. Our Florida kids always made us proud at the National Cattlemen’s Convention where they would win almost every award possible in the youth competitions. They are second to none when it comes to industry knowledge.
Unfortunately the NCBA has done away with this program, but we continue to encourage them to reinstate this into their agenda.
I had the privilege of hosting the University of Florida livestock judging team last fall. It reminded me of my 4-H and college days of traveling around to different farms and ranches. The experiences and friendships gained in those events were priceless.
As we move forward through the next few months, I encourage you to support our youth in any way that’s possible. It’s not always the financial support that’s most appreciated. Some kids just need opportunities and guidance. Great memories can be made that will last a lifetime.