Never Stop Learning:Youth Improve Skills Through Livestock Clinics

An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest. -Ben Franklin

Have you ever watched a livestock show at the N.C. State Fair? Have you ever wondered how they learn how to show a massive cow or keep control of their pig? Let me tell you, there are lot of rules to follow and techniques to execute.

Those showmen didn’t learn how to show overnight. Through the entire year, youth are constantly investing in their skills and knowledge regarding livestock. They are forever trying to learn, grow, and become better. One major opportunity they have is to participate in livestock clinics.

Livestock showmanship clinics are put on at both county and state levels and may last a few hours or several days. The purpose of the clinics is to bring in experienced showman and/or stockman to teach youth all about showing and raising an animal for show. Topics that may be covered include: showmanship, fitting, feeding, and animal selection.

Even if youth have attended dozens of showmanship clinics, it never seems to fail that there is something new to learn. Youth involved in showing livestock often have this craving to learn as much as they can. Perhaps it is the competition that drives them, but I seem to think it is more about the passion for livestock and to be the best they can be.

In fact, some get so good, that when they become older, they keep attending clinics. However, it isn’t always as a pupil, but rather as the teacher. After receiving knowledge for years, many come back to give knowledge.

Clinics aren’t just about learning, though. They also bring people together. At clinics, competition is diminished. The focus becomes sharing a passion with fellow showman. When the classes end, you can often find youth huddled together laughing and talking or throwing a ball around. Clinics provide additional reasons to spend time with those who share a passion of livestock, which isn’t always easy to find.

“I like going to clinics to see friends and being in the atmosphere. I learn lots. If I’m questioning myself about something, the instructors give me reassurance if I’m doing it right or wrong,” explained 14-year-old Isaac Linton, who has been showing livestock since he was 3 and going to clinics for just as long (he tagged along with his older siblings at first).

Clinics take place throughout the year with various focuses, often divided into species and experience. Many are made possible through the proceeds of the Sale of Champions and donors.

Livestock clinics were among my favorite activities I participated in for all the reasons mentioned above. I wanted to learn all I could to fuel my passion and loved surrounding myself with people who liked livestock too. Clinics were fun, interactive, and always different.

If you show livestock and haven’t been to a clinic, you should remedy that situation. I promise you won’t regret it. Clinics are worth it.

Special thanks to all those teachers and coordinators who plan and run clinics. Additional thanks to those who financially make these clinics happen. Whether investing time or finances, knowledge and our youth are worth the investment!

About Marisa Linton See

Marisa grew up showing and raising livestock in NC. She has shown animals at the N.C. State Fair for 15 years and is a past youth livestock scholarship recipient. She is an N.C. State University graduate, agricultural photographer and blogger.

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