Hundreds of youth from across Louisiana will gather in Gonzales on Feb. 14-21 for the 80th annual LSU Agricultural Center Livestock Show at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center.
LSU Agricultural Center officials say they expect more than 2,000 4-H and FFA exhibitors to bring about 1,500 breeding animals, 1,600 market animals, 180 pens of broilers and 700 exhibition birds to the competition.
By the time those 4-H and FFA members reach the state show, they already will have competed in parish and district competitions across Louisiana during the first few weeks of 2015. All will arrive in Gonzales aiming to be state champions — or at least to earn rewards for their hard work and dedication, a news release said.
Judges at the show determine the winners in various breeds of beef and dairy cattle, goats, hogs, poultry and sheep.
PotashCorp will be the corporate title sponsor for the livestock show through a donation of $50,000 to support the Champion Showmanship awards, a news release said.
The Arlene and Joseph Meraux Charitable Foundation has given the LSU AgCenter Livestock Show $150,000 to establish an endowment for Supreme Champion animals in all six breeding species — beef cattle, dairy, poultry, sheep, goats and swine. This represents the largest single donation in the 80-year history of the show.
Six exhibitors will earn Premier Exhibitor awards, which place emphasis and recognition on exhibitors’ knowledge and skills in the 4-H and FFA livestock projects. Supported by an endowment from Gerry Lane Enterprises in Baton Rouge, the program is available to participants exhibiting beef, dairy, swine, sheep, poultry and goats. The program tests all facets of youths’ proficiency in their livestock projects through an interview, a résumé, a test, a skill-a-thon and showing ability.
One exhibitor will receive the Price LeBlanc Champion Livestock Award, which is presented to one grand champion market animal each year from among five species — steers, swine, sheep, chickens and goats. The award is funded by an endowment from Price LeBlanc, a Baton Rouge automobile dealership.
The livestock show also includes a quality assurance and ethics certification program that educates youth on proper and ethical use of animal heath products.
While the annual event may be called a livestock show, it’s more about the young people than their animals, LSU Vice President for Agriculture Bill Richardson said.
“This event provides an opportunity for some of the most outstanding youth in the state to receive recognition for their hard work in learning not only the scientific principles that must be mastered but also the responsibility required to raise this wide array of animals,” Richardson said. “This show also is about the dedication of the many parents, teachers, volunteer leaders, 4-H agents and FFA advisers who have worked with the young people to help them grow as people and responsible citizens.”
As a result of what they learn, generations of young people who have participated in LSU AgCenter livestock projects go on to become leaders — whether in the livestock industry or a variety of other fields ranging from medicine to government, Richardson said.
Youth participating in livestock projects gain knowledge of animal husbandry — including selection, genetics, nutrition, health, showing, economics and marketing of livestock, said livestock show manager Dwayne Nunez. “But they also develop skills such as communication, leadership and cooperation.”
Competition in various phases of the show will begin almost as soon as the first animals are checked in on Feb. 14 and will continue daily through Feb. 21.
A concluding awards ceremony will recognize champion market animal exhibitors, Champion Showmanship winners and Premier Exhibitors as well as recipients of the annual Superintendent of Education Award, Attorney General Award and Governor Awards.
More information is available at the LSU AgCenter website, www.lsuagcenter.com, and through LSU AgCenter parish offices.