Ever wonder how agriculturists know all that they know? I mean between needing to be economists, accountants, agronomists, entomologists, animal scientists, meteorologists…the list goes on…how can they possibly learn all they need to learn? Well most Wyoming ranchers have Bachelor’s, Master’s, and even PhD’s from accredited universities. And most of them grew up in the ranching business, gaining a lifetime of experience.
But I’ll fill you in on a secret. Just between you and me…another sure-fire way agriculturists have discovered to gain the know-how they need to become successful stewards of the land and caretakers of animals is…a secret club…called…4-H. There’s a handshake and everything to be admitted.
Okay, okay, so maybe it’s not a secret and maybe there isn’t a handshake (there is a 4-H pledge though!). But rural citizens and agricultural professionals across this great nation call themselves current and former 4-H members.
One of the ways Niobrara County 4-H members become experts in all-things ag, is by participating in Youth Quality Assurance Programs to learn the importance of good care and management of livestock to ensure consumers receive a high quality, safe and wholesome product. The program is divided into three levels.
Level I is for members 8 to 11 years of age. 4-H leaders and University of Wyoming Cooperative Extension professionals teach members about animal nutrition and feeding programs. They learn to read feed tags, the importance of feeding schedules and we emphasize providing fresh, clean water on a daily basis. We also teach the different methods of animal identification, housing and injury/illness prevention.
Level II is for members 12 – 15. We emphasize meat quality and proper handling to prevent bruising, stress and promote a high quality product. Members learn about animals comfort zones, proper injection sites and how to minimize stress when handling livestock.
Finally level III is designed for member age 16 -19. This level focuses on record keeping, withdrawal times, different kinds of injections and continues to promote giving injections in a proper manner.
Youth Quality Assurance is a statewide 4-H educational program but it is implemented in various ways across the state. In Niobrara County a fourth level has been added for older 4-H members who have completed the first three levels of the state program. This additional educational programming teaches youth the anatomy and physiology of the ruminant and non-ruminant digestive tracts. They also learn about the various nutrients in feed stuffs and how they are utilized by the animal.Thus is the awe and wonder of 4-H. It may not be so secret, but it’s still an awesome education tool. You don’t have to live on a farm or ranch to join 4-H either, contact your local extension office to learn more about getting involved!
From RealPartner Tammie Jensen, Niobrara County 4-H – Lusk, Wyo.