LSU AgCenter officials say they expect more than 3,000 youngsters to bring nearly 6,000 animals to the competition on Feb. 13-20.
By the time those 4-H and FFA members reach the state show, they already will have competed in parish and district competitions across Louisiana during the first few weeks of 2010. All will arrive in Gonzales aiming to be state champions – or at least to earn rewards for their hard work and dedication.
While the annual event may be called a livestock show, it’s more about the young people than their animals, said LSU AgCenter Chancellor Bill Richardson.
“This event provides an opportunity for some of the most outstanding youth in the state to receive recognition for their hard work in learning not only the scientific principles that must be mastered but also the responsibility required to raise this wide array of animals,” Richardson said. “This show also is about the dedication of the many parents, teachers, volunteer leaders, 4-H agents and FFA advisers who have worked with the young people to help them grow as people and responsible citizens.”
Richardson points out that some of today’s 4-H and FFA participants will be tomorrow’s civic and political leaders, as well as teachers, doctors, attorneys and other professionals.
“The values they have learned through their involvement with livestock projects will benefit them throughout their lives – no matter what path they pursue,” he said.
The livestock involved represent some of the best examples of the state’s animal industries, which contributed more than $2.3 billion to Louisiana’s economy in 2008.
“Every one of those animals is accompanied by a champion young person,” said Dr. Paul Coreil, LSU AgCenter vice chancellor. “In this show, all the participants are winners – whether their animals are named champions or not – because what they’ve learned will benefit them throughout their lives.
“This show provides a glimpse of some of the best young people in the state and some of the most significant outcomes of our youth development programs – what these young people have learned about character, leadership and responsibility,” he said.
The 2010 LSU AgCenter Livestock Show is dedicated to Dr. Terry Dumas – a familiar face to many current and former participants in Louisiana 4-H and FFA livestock projects.
Dumas served more than 37 years in the LSU AgCenter before retiring in November 2009. Most of his career was spent working in some capacity with youth livestock projects.
At points during his career, Dumas was state sheep specialist for the LSU AgCenter; the state 4-H livestock specialist for beef, sheep and goats; the leader of the Extension Animal Science Division; and a 4-H agent and agricultural agent in East Baton Rouge Parish.
Judges at the show determine state champions in various breeds of beef and dairy cattle, goats, hogs, poultry and sheep.
One exhibitor will receive the Price LeBlanc Champion Livestock Award, which is presented to one grand champion market animal each year from among five species – steers, swine, sheep, chickens and goats. Price LeBlanc, a Baton Rouge automobile dealer, established a $40,000 endowment to fund the award.
In addition, six young people will receive Gerry Lane Premier Exhibitor Awards in a competition based on their knowledge of livestock. These annual awards are made possible by a $60,000 endowment donated in 1998 by Gerry Lane Enterprises of Baton Rouge.
“Because district shows are still going on across Louisiana, we won’t know the final figures on how many kids and animals have qualified for the state show until later on,” said LSU AgCenter livestock show manager Dwayne Nunez. “But we know we’ll have good numbers because of the volume of young people involved in 4-H and FFA livestock projects across the state.”
Competition in various phases of the show will begin almost as soon as the first animals are checked in on Saturday, Feb. 13, and will continue daily through Feb. 20.
Top winners from the show, as well as winners of scholarships and other awards, will be honored during a ceremony and reception at 5 p.m. Feb. 20 at the Lamar-Dixon Center’s Trademart Building.
4-H is the youth development and outreach program of the nation’s land-grant university system and is coordinated in Louisiana by the LSU AgCenter. Its purpose is to help young people develop knowledge and skills that will benefit them throughout their lives. Projects range from livestock and outdoor activities to computer science, family life, photography and many more.
For more information on the show and the variety of research and educational activities offered by the LSU AgCenter, visit www.lsuagcenter.com or call your parish LSU AgCenter office.