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Livestock Projects Grow Citizens, Not Animals
JACKSON -- Young people in 4-H and FFA recently concluded their 1999-2000 season with the No. 1 youth livestock sale east of the Mississippi River.
The Dixie National Sale of Junior Champions has paid more than $2 million to young livestock exhibitors over the 31 years since the sale was organized. This year, buyers paid $165,828 for 34 market hogs, lambs and steers. In addition to the sale of animals, the Dixie National Sales Committee was able to sponsor scholarships worth $1,000 each for 19 high school seniors to attend Mississippi colleges.
Gale Chrestman, 4-H livestock specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said the real goal of livestock projects is to raise champion young citizens.
"The 4-H and FFA livestock programs help make participants more responsible and build character as they learn how to win and how to lose," Chrestman said.
"We're especially pleased to offer more scholarships this year for 4-H and FFA members who didn't qualify for the sale but who demonstrated outstanding qualities," he said. "The generosity of buyers and individual contributors is evidence of the quality of the participants."
Jimmy Viger, representing the Jackson Area Ford Dealers, was part of a team effort to purchase four animals during the sale. Their group set a record price for a market lamb in 1999 when they paid $50 per pound for the grand champion.
"We've tried to identify several charities to support, and this one appealed to us because we wanted to support young people and the community. The kids work real hard with their animals and enjoy what they do," Viger said. "We (the buyers) had a good time, too. We'll be back next year."
Megan Phillips of Jasper County 4-H has been involved in the livestock projects for six years before making her first trip to the prestigious sale this year.
"Showing livestock increases responsibility and also has improved my relationships with my family," Phillips said.
Involvement in meat and poultry judging has allowed Phillips to travel across the country for 4-H competitions. Learning how to judge livestock helped prepare Frisky, her reserve champion heavyweight European steer, to bring top dollars at the Dixie National Sale of Junior Champions. Frisky also was named the Mississippi Bred Champion Steer.
The Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation and Southern Farm Bureau Life purchased all 1,225 pounds of Frisky for $6 per pound.
"I plan to use the money to pay Frisky's feed bill and invest in next year's steers. Anything leftover will go into a college fund," Phillips said.
The nine steers averaged $7 per pound, the 13 hogs averaged slightly more than $15 per pound, and the 12 lambs averaged $23 per pound.