Friday, July 8, 2011
The month of July means 4-H fairs to many midwest families. Tensions rise as kids hustle to finish 4-H projects they should have completed months ago! But once the projects are checked in and the fair begins, 4-H kids always seem to have a great time.
Beth 4-H Princess
The Sheets family has been involved in 4-H for many years. Beth was a 10-year 4-H member and 4-H princess at the Howard County Fair a few years ago (I won't say how many!). More recently, she has served as a 4-H leader. Both our kids, Jennifer and Michael were 10-year 4-H members and have fond memories of 4-H and the Carroll County Fair. I served on the fair board for 6 years, two years as president.
So, you can see that 4-H has been a valuable part of our lives. Most of all, we appreciate the values it teaches to the youth and the way it prepares them for successful careers, in agriculture and many other areas as well.
The past few years, we have been advisors to the Llama and Alpaca club for our county. We work at getting kids interested in camelids and give them an opportunity to lease an alpaca for the summer which they work with and show at the fair. This has been a lot of fun and gives the community exposure to the joys of alpacas and llamas. Our enjoyment comes from seeing the 4-H'ers having a great time while learning lifetime skills and values.
The youth of today are the future leaders of the Alpaca industry. Now more than ever, Alpaca breeders have many opportunities to get 4-H clubs and FFA organizations involved with alpacas. Many counties now have 4-H alpaca and llama clubs where the kids halter train their animals and exhibit them at the county fair. Some counties don't even require them to own their camelid. They can lease them from a farm during the 4-H season. This provide opportunities to kids that normally would not be able to participate because of lack of funds or space to house their animal. If your county fair does not have a Llama/Alpaca program, why not approach the 4-H office and volunteer to help establish one?
Another initiative to encourage youth involvement with alpacas is the newly established Suri Network Youth Program (SNYP). This program assists students wanting to learn about and work with suri alpacas by offering scholarships to get them started. By participating in the Suri Network Youth Program, students can receive a scholarship of one free suri alpaca to use throughout their 4-H or FFA program. Upon completion of the program that participant will become the new owner of the suri alpaca.
The challenge and future of our industry depends on getting our youth interested and involved in the alpaca business. We challenge you to participate in helping make this happen.
Constructive comments from judge
Triplet Sisters showing suris