We know how important your fair experience is and the effort you put in behind the scenes. MidAtlantic Farm Credit held another virtual contest to showcase your 4-H and FFA animal projects! This year's entrants could either write an essay or submit a video to answer the questions:
- What is one new skill you learned this summer with your fair project?
- How can this experience positively influence your future?
Here are our 2021 Virtual Showcase Winners!
Essay Award Winners
Champion – Elizabeth Green, New Windsor, MD - ESSAY
Reserve Champion – Emily Vincent, Boyce, VA - ESSAY
First Place – Andrew Knatz, Hampstead, MD
Second Place – Hannah Fisher, Lebanon Church, VA
Third Place – Heather Goldman, Hampstead, MD
Fourth Place – Kaitlyn Bradley, Vienna, MD
Fifth Place – Cheyenne Estep, Mount Jackson, VA
First Place – Elizabeth Green, New Windsor, MD
Second Place – Emily Vincent, Boyce, VA
Third Place – Brileigh Francis, Centreville, MD
Fourth Place – Braelyn Francis, Centreville, MD
Fifth Place – Olivia Fisher, Lebanon Church, VA
Video Award Winners
Champion – Cohen Miller, Marietta, PA - VIDEO
Reserve Champion – Emily Fritz, Westminster, MD - VIDEO
First Place – Cohen Miller, Marietta, PA
Second Place – Emily Fritz, Westminster, MD
Third Place – Yardley Lockridge, Winchester, VA
Fourth Place – Payton Dill, Sudlersville, MD
Fifth Place– Billy Comegys, Queenstown, MD
From Failure to the Fair by Elizabeth Green
"The difference between success and failure is persistence." This quote by Debasish Mridha relates to this past year as I experienced many failures before I found success raising 4H pigs. As a result, the new skill that I learned was how to use veterinary care techniques on pigs. Now you might be wondering what “veterinary techniques” means and let me assure you, it is not good news for you or your pigs. If you are performing these techniques, it means your 4H pigs are not healthy. I had six sick 4H pigs, ranging in illnesses from conjunctivitis, upper respiratory infections, and failure to thrive. Our vet, Dr. Simmons, visited our farm frequently this spring and each visit, he taught me new veterinary techniques to help my pigs.
On his first visit, he agreed with my concerns and helped me develop a treatment plan of antibiotics and vitamin B12 shots. Dr. Simmons showed me which gauge needle to use, how to draw out the medicine, and helped me find the spot on each pig to give the shot. On the first visit, the pigs were small and could be held, but when he visited for conjunctivitis, the pigs were too big to hold. This time, I learned how to use a pig snare to safely give shots and put eye drops in their eyes. Now you can imagine giving a pig eye drops was not an easy task and I needed my family to assist me. When Dr. Simmons came in May, we thought one of our pigs was not going to make it. He explained that sometimes you have to change your treatment plan. We used different, stronger antibiotics for our pig, Terp, and the plan was successful.
I also shared my concerns regarding the pig’s weight gain. We discussed the old feed and he helped me select new feed that promoted growth, was medicated, and included vitamin supplements. After several weeks on new feed, the pigs were picking up weight; however, even with the change in feed and vitamins, only two of the six pigs weighed enough to be shown at the fair. At first, this realization was a huge disappointment especially after spending my own money on buying the pigs, their feed, and the vet bills. I then changed my thinking and realized that we had two pigs to show, and one of them won Reserve Champion Spot, both were nominated for the sale, and the other pigs were healthy and growing.
Although things didn’t turn out quite as we hoped, I learned many lessons raising my 4H pigs that will positively influence my future. I learned that I’m able to use veterinary techniques and think outside of the box regarding their health. In addition, this experience has solidified my plans of studying animal science in college, specifically focusing on how genetics can improve an animal’s health. Most importantly, I learned that when you’re raising animals sometimes you learn more from your failures than you do your successes.
Virtual Showcase Contest Essay by Emily Vincent
COVID-19 flipped my world upside down in 2020. Many of the shows and contests I participated in were either canceled or held virtually. While I wasn’t able to attend these events there was one benefit from being at home. I had plenty of time to work with my animal projects. My 4-H and FFA project animals got more attention than in previous years.
This year, I exhibited market steer, lamb, hog, poultry projects. I began to return to being involved. I went to stockmans and livestock judging practices and contests. I went to shows with my lamb and steer and had more activities with my FFA officer team and chapter. Ultimately, this meant I had less and less time to spend at the barn because the calendar was full again.
Time management became necessary in order to have my animals prepared for the county fair. I had to find a way to balance my extracurriculars and personal time with my projects. It also meant that I needed to focus more and be effective with the time I did have at the barn. The hours before school or in the morning before it got too hot were used for feeding and walking animals. The hours after school or during the heat of the day were used to clean and rebed pens. Finally, the hours after dark, when it was cooler, were spent feeding, walking, and washing my projects. Mixed between these tasks were school, homework, FFA meetings, practices and contests. I found a way to get it all completed, it just took time and a well thought out plan.
A specific challenge with one of my projects included walking my market hogs. In past years, it has been difficult to train them to walk slowly with their head held high. They would often get stressed from the heat and run back to the barn. Youth in Clarke County were unable to use pig whips for the longest time. At the beginning of the year I presented an idea via Zoom to our swine and livestock committees asking them to allow pig whips. I was later thanked for speaking and informed that the committees voted to allow pig whips again. I was excited to learn this new technique for training my market hogs that would decrease their stress and make the time I spent walking them more effective. I worked hard and managed my time wisely and efficiently to result in Reserve Intermediate Swine Showman at our county fair.
Developing the life skills of time management, planning, and adapting techniques to be most effective will benefit me in the future tremendously. I understand how to balance my personal time and time for my career. I am comfortable with a busy schedule even when it can be challenging and I can adapt techniques to ensure success. Following the obstacles and lessons of 2021, this year has offered more learning opportunities that I will take with me into high school, college and my career.