Yahoo Weather

You are here

Life lessons from livestock

<p>The Hawaii County 4-H Livestock Association and the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Services will host their 56th Annual Livestock Show and Sale, June 14 and 15, at the Mealani Research Station in Kamuela. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO| SPECIAL TO NHN)</p>

The Hawaii County 4-H Livestock Association and the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Services will host their 56th Annual Livestock Show and Sale, June 14 and 15, at the Mealani Research Station in Kamuela. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO| SPECIAL TO NHN)

<p>Zion Rodriguez and Rayvn Byrd, both 6-year-old 4-H Cloverbuds, wash signs for the upcoming Livestock Show and Sale. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO| SPECIAL TO NHN)</p>

Zion Rodriguez and Rayvn Byrd, both 6-year-old 4-H Cloverbuds, wash signs for the upcoming Livestock Show and Sale. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO| SPECIAL TO NHN)

<p>Tents and animal pens were erected at the Mealani Research Station on Sunday in preparation for the upcoming 56th Annual Livestock Show and Sale, scheduled for June 14 and 15. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO| SPECIAL TO NHN)</p>

Tents and animal pens were erected at the Mealani Research Station on Sunday in preparation for the upcoming 56th Annual Livestock Show and Sale, scheduled for June 14 and 15. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO| SPECIAL TO NHN)

<p>Hilo Rain Makers 4-H club member Meghan Nagai, 11, helps set up a pen for the upcoming Livestock Show and Sale, which will be at the Mealani Research Station in Kamuela on June 14 and 15. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO| SPECIAL TO NHN)</p>

Hilo Rain Makers 4-H club member Meghan Nagai, 11, helps set up a pen for the upcoming Livestock Show and Sale, which will be at the Mealani Research Station in Kamuela on June 14 and 15. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO| SPECIAL TO NHN)

<p>Sue Dela Cruz prepares a pen for the upcoming Livestock Show and Sale which will be held at the Mealani Research Station on June 14 and 15. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO| SPECIAL TO NHN)</p>

Sue Dela Cruz prepares a pen for the upcoming Livestock Show and Sale which will be held at the Mealani Research Station on June 14 and 15. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO| SPECIAL TO NHN)

Can cows help kids go to college? Yes, if the students are 4-H Club members and willing to work hard—with the help of supportive families, like Sue Dela Cruz and her ‘ohana up in Paauilo who raise steers and other animals as part of the Youth Development through 4-H Livestock Projects. This weekend, they will participate in the 56th Annual Livestock Show and Sale at the Mealani Research Station in Waimea, presented by the Hawaii County 4-H Livestock Association and the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Services.

“We’ve been doing this since the kids were in elementary school,” said Dela Cruz, an outreach and education networker for Hamakua Health Center and Kohala Family Health Center. “They learn a lot of skills at a very young age.”

The Livestock Projects allow 4-H-ers to purchase young animals, raise them according to specified guidelines, and market them for a profit, which can then be applied to a college fund.

Daughter Patti Connors once had a state lamb grand champion, and is now a student at University of Puget Sound. Son Robert, Colorado Mesa University, raised two hogs and two lambs, and Tony, a high school senior, was a reserve champion in 2012 for lambs. Son Andy, upcoming sophomore, had a grand champion hog in 2010, and daughter Terri, eighth grade, is raising her third lamb.

“It helps them with public speaking, budgeting, ingenuity, writing,” said Dela Cruz. “They have to say how they got the money, and how they are going to pay it back. They buy the animal, they feed the animal; calculate how much they need to charge per pound, write letters to buyers … It’s a whole world.”

According to Dela Cruz, children can start with the 4-H Livestock Project at 9 years old, by raising a lamb or a hog; at 10 they can move up to a steer. This year, poultry and rabbits were added in to the program. Youth go through a series of workshops to learn how to pick and care for their animals, how to work with them and how to demonstrate them at the show. Qualified “screeners” visit and evaluate their progress throughout the project. Youth are also trained at judging, and 4-H judging teams compete at county, state and with a little luck, national levels.

Dela Cruz’s three children are working with large animals: two lambs and one hog.

“I used to have five before!” she said. Fortunately, the family property can accommodate each in its own stall, one of the many 4-H requirements.

The show and sale is the culmination of the project, starting Friday, with the Rabbit, Poultry and Goat Show, 3-5:30 p.m. On Saturday, the Large Animal Show takes place at 8 a.m., with the Buyer’s Luncheon at 12 p.m. and live auction at 2 p.m. Anyone—restaurants, resorts, organizations and individuals—is welcome to come and register at the Buyer’s Luncheon, then stay and watch, or jump in and bid. Purchased animals are processed and packaged before receiving, and can be donated back to 4-H or another designated charity.

After investing so much of their head, heart, hands and health, the young livestock managers are given time to say goodbye to their animals before they are sent to “harvest”; and another life lesson learned. Afterward, they hopefully take pride in seeing the “Product of 4-H” stickers in KTA, Malama Market and Foodland stores, knowing it’s been a job well done, all the way around.

For more information on 4-H and the Livestock Show and Sale, call 453-6050, or visit http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/4H/livestock.htm.