Beyond the Barn: 4-H Youth Educate Public on Dairy

Posted on November 9, 2012 in Starting Strong - Calf Care
By Andrea M. Bloom, Vita Plus marketing and communications specialist, and Ann Hoskins, Vita Plus calf products coordinator
You’re never too young to speak up for dairy. A recent 4-H youth training session reminded us of that.
About a month ago, we were asked to help out with a program for Dane County 4-H youth who will be participating in dairy projects this summer. These students are required to attend a number of sessions before they can show their animals at the fair. This helps the kids get more involved in their projects and understand the responsibility they have in giving their animals optimal care.
Some of the elementary school students in our group were showing dairy calves for the first time while others were already veterans. Regardless of their experience, all of the students had a good idea of what it takes to raise a blue ribbon calf. They offered all kinds of ideas of how to feed and water the calves and provide a comfortable environment for them.
The students were already looking forward to the Dane County Fair, which takes place in July in Madison, Wis. Those who have shown cattle in the past knew that the fair attracts an urban audience and many consumers who have no connection to the farm other than their visit to the fair once a year.
That puts a lot of pressure on the shoulders of these students. In many cases, they are the only way consumers get to see today’s farmers. That means that the work they put into the fair – beyond the show ring – really does have an impact on consumer perceptions. When they’re seen giving attentive care to their animals or taking the time to answer fairgoers’ questions, they’re helping to build consumer confidence in dairy products.
The good news is these kids are up to the challenge.
Students quickly brainstormed all of the different things they can share with curious fairgoers, including their animals’ names, details about their farms, quirks that make their calves unique, and stories about why they love working with cattle.
The fair season will be here before we know it. As you work with your kids, help them to think of how they will handle questions from fairgoers and the information they can share that will prove they really care about the animals they show. You never know how big of an impact these young students can have.


Category: Starting Strong - Calf Care