Amanda Radke: Cowgirl’s Perspective 8-25-12
My television has been kept on most of the day, so I can catch glimpses of the 2012 Olympic Games in London. I’ve watched as U.S. swimmers and gymnasts have earned gold medals. I’ve seen heartbreaks when goals aren’t quite reached. I’ve seen triumph as an adversary is beaten by his opponent. I’ve watched dreams come true, hard work pay off and friendships developed. It’s been fun taking it all in.
And, while the Olympics are in full swing, so is county fair season! This week is our county’s Achievement Days, and my younger sisters, Courtney and Kaley, are busy baking cookies (yes, I sampled a few to test for purple ribbon quality), making crafts like blankets, ceramics and scarves, clipping and washing calves, breaking bulls, decorating the stalls and preparing for the annual event.
Meanwhile, my family is in charge of organizing an “Ag Olympics,” which will be this year’s entertainment at the 4-H barbecue — an event which brings the community together to celebrate agriculture.
Inspired by the 2012 Olympic Games currently going on in London, we’re coming up with a wide assortment of competitions for the kids — everything from a pie eating contest, to throwing cow pies, to balancing an egg on a stick, to throwing water balloons, to riding stick ponies around an obstacle course. And, while the kids have fun playing games for the crowd, my hope is community members are going to gain a new appreciation for the 4-H youth — the future of food production and agriculture.
Just like Olympic athletes, 4-H kids make a daily commitment to their sport. Instead of hopping in the pool like U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps or practicing on the beams like U.S. gymnast Gabby Douglas, youth in agriculture are out in the barn, washing and brushing their calves in preparation for show day.
Instead of gold medals, these young people are rewarded with purple ribbons and a chance to take their projects to the state fair.
For consumers in the audience watching the event, they will discover that 4-H is more than just fluffing up the steer’s hair on show day; getting an animal ready for competition is a commitment in time, money and heart.
At the end of the summer, the steer is harvested, and the quarters of beef typically are sold to friends, family and neighbors. As young people, the circle of life is a lesson learned in the real sense. As radio personality and Nebraska cattle rancher Trent Loos always says, “Everything lives, everything dies, but death with a purpose gives true meaning to life.” 4-H steers go on to nourish families with burgers, steaks and by-products — something these young people are quick to understand.
Without a doubt, 4-H youth have Olympian hearts — working daily to care for their animals and raise beef to feed the community. As community members come to watch the fun Ag Olympics event at the county fair barbecue, I also hope they gain a better appreciation for the young people in agriculture — our future food producers.
Cheers to 4-H youth competing in county fairs across the country. May their hard work pay off on show day! ❖