4-H & FFA youth participate in Skill-A-Thons this summer

Farm Forum

BROOKINGS – As South Dakota youth prepare for upcoming county and state livestock shows many 4-H and FFA members also have the opportunity to show off their knowledge and skills during the Livestock Skill-a-thons hosted during the state livestock shows.

Coordinated by SDSU Extension, the events highlight and reward youth’s knowledge within their animal projects. All 4-H and FFA members are encouraged to compete in these free events.

There will be age divisions for beginner, junior, and senior. Youth do not need to be an exhibitor in order to compete and no pre-registration required; youth may enter the day of the event. Participants can come during the time frame scheduled and expect to complete the contest in 20-30 minutes.

All 2013 Livestock Skill-a-thon awards have been graciously sponsored by Fillbrandt’s Bigg Dogg Agg, The POD and Dakota Ag Supply. Top five individuals in the three age divisions will be recognized. Winners will receive items to encourage future development of their own livestock projects. Awards will be presented during the various livestock shows.

First Skill-A-Thon is July 27

The South Dakota Summer Spotlight kicks off the first Livestock Skill-a-thon on July 27 from 9 a.m. to noon in the Livestock Complex at the South Dakota State Fairgrounds in Huron.

The contest allows youth to demonstrate their understanding and practical application of livestock managerial skills in the beef, sheep, swine, and meat goat areas.

Skill-a-thon stations will focus on animal selection, meats, animal health & welfare, nutrition, and reproduction. Youth who participate in the Livestock Skill-a-thon will be exposed to current and new technology being utilized in livestock production while performing hands on exercises and developing their critical thinking and problem solving skills through demonstration or matching type activities.

State Fair Skill-A-Thon Aug. 30 & 31

The South Dakota State Fair will host four separate Skill-a-thons: Beef, Sheep, Swine, and new to 2013 Goat. Aug. 30 the Swine Skill-a-thon will be from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. CDT and Sheep Skill-a-thon 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. CDT; Aug. 31 will be the Beef Skill-a-thon from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. CDT and the Goat Skill-a-thon will run from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. CDT. The new Goat Skill-a-thon will expose youth to both the meat and dairy production sides of the goat project.

Premier Exhibitor Program

In addition to the Livestock Skill-a-thons at State Fair, 4-H youth, ages 11 to 18, that are exhibiting beef, sheep, or swine may enter the Premier Exhibitor Program.

Participants in this contest will practice their decision making and communication skills by competing in four events: Industry Interview, Skill-a-thon, Production and Management Quiz, and Showmanship. A panel of judges, representing the South Dakota beef, sheep, or swine industry, will ask a few short questions during the industry interview and score youth on accuracy of their answers and overall presentation skills. Contact your local 4-H Youth Program Advisor to register for Premier Exhibitor.

Western Junior Show Skill-A-Thon

Finally, the Western Junior Show Oct. 9-12 in Rapid City will be adding a Livestock Skill-a-thon to its schedule for any youth to participate.

For a full list of rules and suggested study resources to help youth prepare for the Livestock Skill-a-thons this summer please reference the South Dakota State Fair 4-H Division Handbook. If you have any other questions about the Premier Exhibitor or Skill-a-thons, contact SDSU Extension 4-H Youth Livestock Field Specialist Megan Nielson,