Know Your Farmer 4-H & FFA Strong

by Debra Helbach

Cousins and Nelsonville Zippy Zees 4-H club members Cooper Kubisiak (left) and Ava Bennett (right) did well with their first-year swine projects. Cooper earned Reserve Grand Champion Market Hog with Tammy, who was sold to Heartland Farms. Ava’s pig, Bruce, was sold to Hinze Excavating.

Can I get a shout out for our amazing 4-H and FFA market animal project mem­bers? These youth have spent countless hours work­ing with their market animals.

To decide to raise an animal is a big decision in and of itself. There are so many life skills and val­ues that they develop as they devote themselves to their projects. They learn to be self-motivated, compassionate, budget time and finances, goal setting, animal husbandry skills, record-keeping, showmanship, how to market their animal projects and develop strong business relationships, and so much more!

For the 4-H and FFA youth involved in the market animal project, fair time is a special time to show­case their animal and non-animal exhibits, learn from the judges’ critiques, enjoy the comradeship of fellow 4-H club and FFA chapter members, and make wonderful memories!

However, for the past five months, COVID-19 has affected every facet of our lives, and our youth are no exception. For a number of months there was uncertainty but hope that there would still be a County Fair to exhibit at.

Disappointingly enough, due to COVID-19, there was no traditional fair. A modified live, one-day market hog and turkey show and sale was held Sunday, July 19. The event was carefully planned, keeping in mind everyone’s safety.

Youth in grades 3-12 showed their market ani­mals. It was a quieter event, with the youth and family members watching on. It was bittersweet, as there was no long weekend of camping on the grounds or hanging out in the barns with friends, no colorful and educational club barn displays or hustle and bustle of fair spectators making their way through the barns.

For many, it was also a reminder about last year’s fair that was cut short. But the youth were none-the-less extremely grateful to exhibit and sell their animals.

Showing pigs for the first time were cousins and members of the Nelsonville Zippy Zees 4-H Club, Ava Bennett (daughter of Meghan and Steven Kubisiak), and Cooper Kubisiak (son of Kali and Paul Kubisiak).

Ava showed her pigs, Bruce and Kevin. Ava en­joyed her swine project, especially getting up first thing every morning to care for and spend time with her pigs. She said that the best part about the show day was watching and learning from the older kids and the friendships that are made.

Ava’s best bud, Cooper, showed his pigs Tammy and Mike. He loved raising his pigs and learned they are very smart and act a lot like dogs! He also learned more about the circle of life. He even earned Reserve Grand Champion Market Hog!

A big thank you on behalf of the youth market animal members goes out to everyone that made this event possible from start to finish while keep­ing everyone’s safety in mind.

Seeing all the bidders show up in support of these youth was truly heartwarming. Thank you all for your big hearts and for attending. It meant a lot!

There were so many bidders jumping in to bid on the animals, it just made you feel extra proud to be a part of this community.

It was beautiful to see the adults rallying for our youth. They are our future, and we need to set the examples, as some day they may be able to extend that same gesture.

For some youth, the money earned from their sale may mean the difference in being able to have funds for next year’s animals, buying qual­ity breeding stock, purchasing or upgrading their show equipment, money to put toward their first vehicle, or even help with attending college.

When you buy from these youth, you are getting quality food with a local connection that makes a difference. Thank you, thank you!

Thank you to all of the bidders that attended the Market Sale and who helped make the sale a success during these challenging and un­usual times of the pandemic!

Thank you to Mader & Mader Auction Service–Auctioneer; International Bank of Amherst–Auction Clerk; Country Vet LLC–Fair Veterinar­ian; Jim Warzynski & Rosholt Market Animal Committee–Sound System & Fans; Jerry Krupka–hauling animals to market; Niemuth’s Steak & Chop Shop, Pond Hill Processing, Becks’ Meats, and Mekong Meats–Processing; The Jensen Center and Community Spirit for this ad; and everyone who donated their time and resources to help out!

A sincere thanks to all of the Buyers, Bidders, Donors, and Volunteers that made the 2020 Portage County Fair Association Market Sale a success despite not having a fair this year. Please support these businesses that support our 4H & FFA youth.

Sincerely, The Portage County Fair Board, Amherst Fair Market Sale Committee, and the 4H & FFA Exhibitors and Families

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