The beginning of the stock show season has officially arrived with the kick off of the Fort Worth show. Wise County 4-H and FFA members will travel down the road to Cowtown, Houston, San Antonio, Austin and San Angelo this spring, and will end the season at our very own Wise County Youth Fair.
The youth in the barns are ambassadors of agriculture – they are usually the first thing the public sees as they are walking through the different species. This is why Quality Counts education is important and that the message they are conveying is always positive and welcoming.
Quality Counts is a curriculum that teaches youth livestock exhibitors character education and quality assurance. It is designed around the Six Pillars of Character created by the Josephson Institute of Ethics: Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring, and Citizenship.
Quality Counts takes each pillar and relates it to how exhibitors can develop and use these traits with their livestock projects. To better understand how this is done, let’s look at how each pillar and how it relates to a youth livestock project:
Trustworthiness can be exhibited in youth livestock projects in many ways. An exhibitor demonstrates that they are trustworthy when they do things as simple as accurately recording birth and possession dates, meeting all obligations with their projects and accepting the responsibility that comes with a project.
To be respectful, livestock exhibitors live by the Golden Rule by treating other exhibitors, spectators and judges as they would like to be treated. Other ways of showing respect include listening to parents and advisors, valuing and honoring others’ opinions and taking proper care of their animals.
An exhibitor will develop the knowledge, skills and judgment about the desired characteristics of their animal and how to prepare it for the show. A responsible exhibitor will also do each job as well as it can be done, be a role model for peers and other exhibitors, and keep record books up-to-date.
Livestock exhibitors can show fairness simply by treating all people fairly. This means that they listen to others’ ideas and try to understand their feelings, live up to all agreements, and refuse to let personal preferences or prejudices get in the way of making fair decisions.
Often, caring can be thought of as one of the most important pillars. If we do not care, then why are we involved in livestock projects? A caring exhibitor treats animals humanely at all times, shares resources with others and is not cruel or insensitive toward other people.
An exhibitor can show good citizenship by obeying the rules of the show, promoting good character within their clubs, chapters and communities, and by protecting the environment during the raising of their project. Citizenship should be shown to the projects (animals) as well as people.
While these are some brief ways that the Six Pillars of Character are reflected in livestock projects, there are many more. In addition, many of the traits that are under one pillar are interchangeable with another pillar.
A livestock project is a vehicle that teaches participants many things they will use later in life. Developing our youth’s character can only lead to a brighter future.
For more information, contact the Texas AgriLife Extension office in Wise County at (940) 627-3341.