By Thomas Dux, Nebraska Pork Producers Association Mentor
In July, I traveled down to my hometown of Fairbury, Neb., to help out with the Jefferson County Fair pig show. The pig show is very special to me as I have showed pigs at this county fair for 15 years since I was five. It all began with me showing in the open class pig show and it eventually led to the 4-H and FFA swine shows.
However, I decided last year was the last time I would show pigs at the Jefferson County Fair, but I still wanted to contribute in some way to this special show so I figured I would help at the swine show. It was a good way for me to give back to the pig show as it has provided me with many opportunities and fond memories over the past 15 years of my life.
Even though the number of contestants has dropped a little over the years, the 2009 swine show was still very solid. This drop in numbers at the swine show is disheartening to see because not as many kids have swine as a 4-H or FFA project. I feel that this is where I can step in and excite kids to pursue swine as a valid project for the fair. Being an agricultural education major, this is a goal I hope to attain when I begin teaching. I want to explain to my students how swine or just livestock in general, is a very challenging yet rewarding project to have in high school. The accolades that you get for showing livestock at the fair are so much more than a trophy or prize money. A strong work ethic and becoming more responsible are far more important characteristics in your life than a monetary prize.
Having swine as a student project will provide the individual with these characteristics and many more, transforming them into contributing members of our society. With the upcoming generations of kids being labeled as underachievers, a 4-H or FFA project in swine will help them achieve great heights.
I was glad that I decided to help at my county fair because it was great to give back to the fair after all it has done for me. I hope that kids realize how important livestock shows are to the Jefferson County Fair.
And I will continue to promote the swine show at the county fair so maybe someday the number of pigs will be getting higher, instead of lower.