Training the next generation of young livestock exhibitors

2010 East Texas Star Series participant washes his steer.

A participant at the 2010 East Texas Star Series washes his steer. (Texas AgriLife Extension Service photo by Willie Arnwine)

NACOGDOCHES – For about the cost of a couple of afternoon movie tickets and concession snacks, parents can give their child a two-day learning experience they’ll benefit from for the rest of their lives, according to a Texas AgriLife Extension Service agent.

And parents can have a mini-vacation themselves, said Aaron Low, AgriLife Extension agent for Cherokee County and one of the program planners for the East Texas Show Star Series.

Set Oct. 22-23, the program will be held at the Nacogdoches County Expo Center at 3805 NW Stallings Dr., Nacogdoches. The purpose of the weekend event is to educate youth new to showing livestock, especially those just starting out showing steers, heifers, lambs and goats, Low said.

Four-Minute, MP3 interview of Aaron Low and the East Texas Show Star Series

“Showing livestock can be an expensive venture, especially if you have to learn things the hard way, by mistakes,” he said. “We want to get them started off on the right foot.”

To prevent parents from having to absorb the cost of expensive mistakes, Low and a group of East Texas AgriLife Extension agents started the first show series three years ago. The event has grown since then, he said, with a fine-tuning of the trainings and the bringing on board of livestock experts from throughout the state.

“We try to keep it as cheap as possible especially with the economy the way it is,” Low said. “We know everybody is tight on funds.

Thanks to agribusiness sponsors, they have been able to keep registration costs down, he noted.

The registration fee for each youth contestant is $50. The fee for an accompanying brother or sister is $40. For attending parents, guardians or agriculture teachers, the fee is $30. The fee covers everything, including lunch and supper on Saturday and breakfast on Sunday, and the use of stalls and lighted outdoor corrals, Low said.

The registration fees barely cover the costs of the meals, which considering the quality of the facilities and the years of experience represented by the instructors, makes the program a really good deal, Low noted.

Registration may be done online by going to https://agriliferegister.tamu.edu/ and entering “star” in the keyword search box.

Lane Dunn, Texas AgriLife Extension Service agent for Shelby County

Lane Dunn, Texas AgriLife Extension Service agent for Shelby County, addresses last year's East Texas Show Series participants. (Texas AgriLife Extension Service photo by Willie Arnwine)

The expo facility includes a 78,000 square foot arena, covered stalls and more than 60 recreational-vehicle hook-ups and shower facilities in four of the restrooms. Contestants will have to pay for the RV spaces and hookups if they use them, and go through the Expo center to do so, Low noted.

Instructors include AgriLife Extension agents from throughout the region, regional and state AgriLife Extension livestock specialists, and local agricultural science teachers. Topics will include lessons on showmanship, daily animal maintenance, the Quality Counts program and more, with breakout sessions tailored for the different species and animal classes, he said.

The full training program is extensive and can be found at http://etsss.blogspot.com/.

And it’s not all work, as the program is designed with kids in mind, which means they get to have fun too, Low said. On Oct. 22, the program will begin with sign-in at 8 a.m., and trainings in the morning. Later during the first day, there will be a showmanship contest where participants can exhibit the skills they learned earlier in the day.

“We organize the kids into small groups and work with them one-on-one, with lots of hands-on training,” Low said. “We feed everybody really well and hand out lots of door prizes.”

On Sunday, after an optional Cowboy Church service, there will be a two-ring show, he said.

“Everybody, regardless of what animal they have — a steer, a heifer, lamb or goat – is going to get to go in two different rings with two different judges and compete for additional prizes there,” Low said.

For more information, contact Low at 903-683-5416, arlow@ag.tamu.edu .

As of Aug. 10, sponsors for the event include ACCO Showmaster Feed, Bayer Animal Health, AgriLife Extension District 5 Agricultural and 4-H agents associations, Shelby County Farm Bureau, Cherokee County Farm Bureau, Nacogdoches County Farm Bureau and the Heritage Land Bank. As more sponsors come on board, they will be noted on the show’s blog spot, Low said.

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