Feb. 14, 2023- Texas is unmatched in youth livestock project ownership and participation. Students engaging in this project gain invaluable life skills such as work ethic, responsibility and accountability. Supporters of these exceptional youth invest nearly $100 million annually in the futures of these young agriculturalists. What can become lost in a barn full of livestock, exhibitors, trophies, banners, buckles, premiums and scholarships, is that the barn is actually a classroom. The County Extension Agents and Agricultural Science Teachers leading youth through this experience are professional educators affiliated with a public or private school. The exhibitors qualify for excused absences as an extracurricular activity. Livestock show barns are the classrooms for livestock exhibitors. Because the barn is a classroom, the livestock community must take notice that we are constantly projecting an image to the public regarding the value of our classroom. We must proclaim the values we stand for and also condemn behaviors that are unwelcome and unhelpful in preserving these unique classroom settings.
Coming up at the end of the month is the Northeast Texas Livestock Association (NETLA) Show and Sale of Champions (Feb 23-25, 2023). For many families, the county Livestock show is the culmination of months or even years of preparation. During this event, the selected few will have a chance to offer their projects to the community supporters for sale, auction style, during the Sale of Champions (Feb 25, 2023 Regional Civic Center). For many this will be a learning experience, for others the begining or continuation of a long tradition of their families. Either way, making it to the sale or not, much will be learned over the next following weeks. As an agricultural educator, my goal is to promote and encourage opportunities for youth to develop in a positive way, and hard work does it. As I was visiting projects in the last few days, I have seen our NETLA exhibitors working under severe weather conditions trying to overcome current weather and land conditions to complete the projects. I have seen also their families providing the support needed of this to happen. To all NETLA exhibitors, I wish them luck, do not forget to sell the NETLA Raffle Tickets (funds collected help to fund the purchase of projects during the sale of champions under the BIDS for KIDS initiative and their sale is a requirement to show under NETLA) and get ready for the 2023 NETLA Livestock Show and Sale of Champions! See you there!.