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Value of youth livestock programs – Audio

Bernadette O’Rourke, extension livestock outreach specialist
Department of Animal Science
UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
Phone (608) 263-4304

Bernadette O’Rourke gives us a peak at what’s ahead for the 4H fair season.

3:06 – Total Time
0:18 – What are youth livestock projects
0:34 – What kids get from the project
1:02 – Examples of things learned
1:46 – Projects and success in life
2:25 – Go to the fair, visit the barns
2:56 – Lead out


Sevie Kenyon: Bernie, can you start out by telling us what are these livestock projects that people take to the fairs?

Bernadette O’Rourke: Projects that I work with specifically are beef, you know, sheep, swine, and meat goats. There are a variety of other ones such as dairy and poultry, small animals, horses; there’s lots of opportunities for kids.

Sevie Kenyon: What do they get out of a livestock project?

Bernadette O’Rourke: Well we always think livestock projects are a great vehicle to show and have kids learn lots of different skills. we give them the opportunity to become decision makers, show some responsibility; you know there’s just lots of skills that youth learn, along the process of raising an animal that we feel are very important in making kids be great citizens.

Sevie Kenyon: And Bernie, do you have some examples of the kinds of things that youth learn in the livestock project?

Bernadette O’Rourke: We actually do have some great examples from our meat animal quality assurance surveys. And in that survey it showed that youth are learning lots of different things about livestock production—such as reading feed, antibiotic or medicine tags and labels, to male sure they’re giving their projects what they need in the parameters that they’re supposed to…how to contact their Vet, learn about agricultural careers, how to be a friendly and responsible coworker or co-family member. You know, so there’s lots of different that our programs are very impactful for youth.

Sevie Kenyon: And Bernie, do we have also some evidence that people who participate in these projects are successful later in life?

Bernadette O’Rourke: In 2004 we had another survey or evaluation that compared 4H youth to non-4H youth, and youth that were involved in 4H tended to be very active in terms of being volunteers. Became more active in other organizations. Just generally perhaps was a better citizen, in terms of being involved in making a situation better in for others. That’s pretty crucial and neat to see, and those were all really centered around kids that were in animal science projects.

Sevie Kenyon: Bernie with the county fairs this season ahead of us, people go to the fair, what should they look for if they visit the barns?

Bernadette O’Rourke: Our young people in Wisconsin at the County Fair showing animals are a great wealth of information to find out what they learned in their projects. It’s fun to listen to kids talk about you know the ups and downs. Certainly we’re going to have bumps in the road, and I think its great to hear from kids about what did they really have to dig down deep in themselves to figure out and/or make it better. And I think for sure that the role that we hopefully have in helping produce some great kids that are able to be adaptable, learn a lot of things along the way, and for sure have some fun.

Sevie Kenyon: We’ve been visiting with Bernie O’Rourke, Department of Animals Science, University of Wisconsin-Extension and the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Madison, Wisconsin, and I am Sevie Kenyon.