Although we may be more than half a year away from summer days and carnival nights, 4-H members in Allamakee County have started preparing for the 2020 show season.
On Tuesday, youth of all backgrounds and experience will participate in a Beef Project Workshop at the Northeast Iowa Sales Commission to learn about nutrition, daily care, safety, deadlines and more.
“We wanted to provide an all-inclusive event to show what the beef project has to offer and to be able to get kids kickstarted with this project,” Morgan Bjerke, Allamakee County Youth Coordinator, said. “Sometimes it can be very daunting to start a large livestock project, and kids are not sure where to start, so we wanted to provide this opportunity, but also to provide education to youth who have been in the beef project area for many years and that they can continue to enhance their skills in the area and learn something new.”
Having shown beef cattle for eight years, Allie Bieber of Waukon, Iowa, said there is always something new to learn in the industry, and she loves the sportsmanship found among exhibitors.
“I like going to cattle shows and watching other 4-Hers to learn from them and how I can better promote my own beef industry,” Bieber said.
Born into Angus, Bieber was raised working with cattle on the Ed and George Bieber Angus Farm in Waukon.
“We have been farming for several years through my grandpa, and I myself have three head of Angus cattle,” Bieber said. “We raise registered Angus beef, and I have been helping on my family farm for several years since I was a little girl.”
Despite her years of experience, Bieber said now is the perfect time for people of all backgrounds to dive into showing beef.
“You can always start at a smaller level of working with smaller beef projects and working your way up,” Bieber said. “If you ever have questions, I always found it was easy to go to older 4-hers and ask questions because they are always willing to help out.”
A program unique to Allamakee County makes it easy for youth to become involved.
The Livestock Share-a-Project program gives a chance to show animals at the fair even if they do not have a traditional farming background. It is an option to partner with local community members to participate, according to Bjerke.
Share-a-Project is offered for larger breeding livestock, so participants cannot sell at the livestock auction, but Bjerke said they can have a genuine showing experience.
“We’ve really seen this in the past 10 years take off in our dairy,” Bjerke said. “The dairy industry continues to decline across the country, but it is really neat to see within our county program the dairy has the most entries at the county fair, and that is due to our Share-a-Project program which is really unique to be able to provide those youth not only those skills within the livestock project area, but life skills in general as what we hope they can take out of 4-H.”
Bieber added that the skills she gained through 4-H are helping her become a better beef advocate.
She has attended several workshops through local and state 4-H programs. Bieber was crowned Iowa Angus Princess last year and said she will remain under a state title as Miss Iowa Angus.
The first deadline for showing beef is fast approaching.
As a county 4-H program, Allamakee County requires all market animals to be weighed at their county beef weigh-in on Dec. 21 at the Northeast Iowa Sale Commission from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. There will also be retinal imaging for the Iowa State Fair.
Those interested in taking advantage of the Share-a-Project program should start reaching out for help or information now, according to Bjerke.
“The sooner they can start with a mentor, the better they are going to be because they more experience they are going to be able to have,” Bjerke said.
The cattle ID and Share-a-Project deadline is May 15, but youth are recommended to not wait until that time.