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home : education : schools September 20, 2017

8/8/2017 11:34:00 AM
Livestock club in top form at fair
Faith Keeton with her steer at the Deschutes County Fair. photo by Jodi Schneider McNamee
+ click to enlarge
Faith Keeton with her steer at the Deschutes County Fair. photo by Jodi Schneider McNamee

With its unique sights, sounds and smells who can resist the annual Deschutes County Fair? For many, just talking about the fair can conjure up memories that instantly take us back to our childhood.

The Deschutes County Fair is run by the local fair association with big support from 4-H volunteer leaders. And for 32 years Pam Mitchell has been leading the Cloverdale Livestock Club - long before her own children were able to participate. The fair has been a key part of her life since the fourth grade when she became a 4-H member.

"I have only taken one year off from 4-H, and that was after graduation. I felt so out of place that I went back to helping lead the club and have been at it ever since," Mitchell told The Nugget.

4-H is one of the largest out-of-school youth programs in the nation. It encourages participants to learn by doing. Through animal science, home economics, art, or other project areas, it helps youth grades K-12 develop life skills through leadership activities and community service opportunities.

There are 25 youths in the Cloverdale Livestock Club ranging from ages 10 to 17 years old.

Most of the club members show sheep in various classes. This year two members showed pigs, and fourth-grader Faith Keeton from the Cloverdale area showed a steer.

"Faith's great uncle and aunt, Boyd and Hazel Keeton, were my 4-H leaders growing up and set a wonderful example to follow," Mitchell said.

Nine of the club members produced their own market animals - which means they own the mothers and bred, birthed, and cared for the animals year-round.

The other youths talked to producers and made arrangements to select and purchase their market animals.

All the members must have the lamb and hogs in their possession by mid-May, except for the steers which they acquire by February.

Once they receive their animal they must feed and exercise him properly to reach the appropriate weight by the end of July.

The 4-H members learn about finances, nutrition, record-keeping, healthcare and marketing.

These youths are learning hard work and responsibility, but it also teaches them good business practices, too.

After the animals make it to the fairgrounds, the work still isn't done. The club members are at the barn by 6 a.m. cleaning pens, feeding, filling up water tanks, laying down bedding and continuing to train their animal for the show.

Over in the Sheep Barn there were a couple of new members getting ready to show their sheep in the ring.

Sisters resident Leith Easterling and her 10-year-old daughter Hannah Williver were excited about receiving a blue ribbon for 3rd place in market and showmanship.

"This is my first time in the livestock club," Hannah said shyly, smiling down at her lamb.

"Hannah's passion has always been with animals since she was really young," Easterling said. "We just knew that this would be a great way for her to start and finish a project. And being with animals, she absolutely thrived in her class."

Hannah had been taking care of the lamb since last April.

"Hannah is a great example of a first-year member," Mitchell said. "She was so shy at the first meeting, she sat by herself. But then she blossomed. It has been fun to watch her grow and gain confidence."

Another member from Sisters, 12-year-old Adelynn Kroytz, won first in her class in showmanship and was ready to go into the finals.

"She's had a great time learning and figuring things," said her proud dad, Rick Kroytz.

Most kids just show market animals, but seven members brought breeding sheep. Mitchell's 17-year-old son Sam brought 11 sheep that he owns.

"Both my sons, Sam and Nolan, show sheep and it's wonderful being able to share the livestock culture with them," Mitchell said.

Mitchell believes in the program and will continue to head up the Cloverdale Livestock Club.

"4-H and FFA have had a large impact on who I am today and I am glad to be able to help provide that opportunity for others," Mitchell said. "I have been so blessed to have had the chance to be a part of so many young people's lives."

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