Editor’s Note: This story about what 4-H means to me was written by Premier Showman 4-H Club member Sydney Sanders:
My family has been involved in the cattle business for as long as I can remember. Since I have always been around these animals, I have always had a passion to have a career in livestock. As I am only 12, I do not know what I want to do, but I know that it will be something to do with animals and 4-H has been my start.
I first stepped into the show ring when I was 5 years old with my dad and my little heifer, Socks, at the Highland County Fair. Since then, I have always had the desire to show livestock. I first started my 4-H career when I was 8 years old. I showed an angus steer, a simi percentage heifer, a feeder calf and market barrows. That year at the Ohio State Fair I won the 8- and 9-year-old Beef Outstanding Market Exhibitor Award. At the Highland County Fair that same year I won Outstanding Market Exhibitor for both swine and beef. These accomplishments were major factors in setting bigger goals for my future.
The next two years I earned Beef Outstanding Market Exhibitor for my age division at the Ohio State Fair, but my greatest accomplishment of my 4-H career so far came in 2017 when I won Reserve Champion Beef Outstanding Market Exhibitor and Third Overall Outstanding Beef Breeding Exhibitor all in the same year at the Ohio State Fair. Outstanding Market Exhibitor is an award given to someone who has earned the highest score in three different competitions. Showmanship is how well you show your animal, the skillathon is a test on your knowledge of your species and the market show is how well your animal places against others.
After earning high scores in all three competitions, I was announced as the Eleven-Year-Old Beef Outstanding Market Exhibitor. During the ceremony, the time had come for all of the age division winners to line up so that the barn superintendent could announce the top three individuals with the highest scores overall who would then be in the running for first, second and third overall outstanding market exhibitors to be announced at the Sale of Champions. The first contestant announced was from the 16-year-old age division. The second contestant announced was from the 11-year-old division. That contestant was me. Finally, the third contestant announced was from the 8- and 9-year-old division. That contestant was my sister, Carly.
The final portion of that ceremony was announcing the top three overall Outstanding Beef Breeding Exhibitors. This contest is based on scores I earned with my angus heifer. I was thrilled when my name was called for third place and my sister’s for second. We had both managed to accomplish two of the top three awards for market and breeding exhibitor, a very rare feat.
The Sale of Champions is an event where businesses come and buy the grand and reserve champions. The things that sell are the Grand and Reserve Champion steer, goat, sheep, pig, cheese, turkey and pen of chickens. Along with that, the Outstanding Market Exhibitors from each barn are recognized. During each species category, they place the top three market exhibitors from third to first. When they finally got to beef, all of the age division winners came up on to the stage. First, they announced Carly as the Third Overall Beef Outstanding Market Exhibitor. Next, they announced me as the Reserve Champion Beef Market Exhibitor. I got two belt buckles and a banner. I was super happy because I have wanted to get into the top three market exhibitors since I was 8. I was also super happy because I had a steer that year that was by far my favorite animal that I had ever shown. I even had come to the state fair hoping that I could win that award with him.
Winning Third Overall Outstanding Beef Breeding Exhibitor and Reserve Champion Beef Market Exhibitor all in the same year at the Ohio State Fair is by far my greatest accomplishment. I sure hope that I can do it again someday. I have learned a lot through 4-H such as the fact that hard work does pay off. I am looking forward to my future years in 4-H and where they will lead me toward a career in the livestock industry.
Submitted by Lynette Hamilton, Premier Showmen 4-H Club adviser.