Livestock Learning Opportunities for Youth

January, 2013
Tycee Prevatt, 4-H Extension Agent - Glades County

2013, the beginning of a new year!  In South Florida the beginning of a new year means fair season for many youth and their families.  You can almost smell the cotton candy and elephant ears in the air.  However, for many youth and their families it is the smell of the barn that brings months of hard work to a show ring finish.  This happens to be one of my most favorite times of the year; I get excited just watching the trailers pull into the fairgrounds to unload. 
While the fairs offer a chance for youth to show off their hard work and projects, there are many activities that happen all year long that youth with and without animals can enjoy.  Below are just a few opportunities the youth in our area have:

  • Livestock Judging - You do not have to own your own animal to enter a livestock judging competition.  All you have to have is a willingness to learn about animals.  At a typical competition you are asked to judge or evaluate several classes of market and/or breeding beef, swine and sheep.  Classes consist of 4 animals and a typical contest runs about 6 classes.  In addition to placing the classes you may have questions on the classes or be asked to give a set of reasons.  Livestock Judging is a great opportunity to learn about why the industry chooses a certain type of animal, as well as what type of animal you should be picking out to show.  Upcoming Contests include:
    • January 26, 2013 – at the South Florida Fair – West Palm Beach, FL at 12:00 p.m.
    • February 9, 2013 – at the Florida State Fair – Tampa, FL at 8:00 a.m.
    • February 15, 2013 – at the Highlands County Fair – Sebring, FL at 9:00 am
    • February 15, 2013 – at the Osceola County Fair – Kissimmee, FL at 9:00 am
  • Skillathon – Many fairs and local Extension Offices are now offering subject matter related Skillathons for youth to participate.  In a Skillathon the youth learns and shares project/subject skills through different learning stations.  If your child is interested in a specific project a Skillathon might be fun for them to participate in.  You can contact your local extension office to see if Skillathons are offered in your area.  A list of UF/IFAS Extension Offices can be found at
  • Prospect Shows – Many prospect shows are popping up across the state.  This is a great opportunity for a child who has a show animal that they are raising to be able to see how their animal will do in a competition.  It is also a great learning opportunity.  Often times a prospect show judge will talk to youth about how/what to do to make their animal better.  It is a great opportunity for someone who is new to showing animals or is considering showing to sit back and listen to why you want a certain animal and what you should be looking for when picking out your animal for show.  A great resource for upcoming prospect shows in your area is  Here you will find a list of upcoming shows in your area, entry forms, and rules.

In closing, there are many opportunities throughout our state this time of year to teach youth about the animal industry that does not require the youth to actually own an animal. It is very important that we take the time to teach the upcoming generation the importance of agriculture and our food supply and what better setting to do it in than a fair.

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