Farm

A young woman views one of the livestock competitions during the five-day, three-county Farm Show on Saturday, July 13.

The Culpeper-Madison-Rappahannock Farm Show concludes another successful year with much of the attention focused on the beneficiaries—our youth participants, both 4H and FFA students. Awards given out, sponsors recognized, champions selected in the show ring, in the poultry and rabbit barn and in the homemakers building.

One young lady thought she may not win her class.

Actually, she was already a winner—and here is why. Not all her peers were present, many having made choices to do other things rather than to spend their time rearing and training a livestock project, attending club meetings, filling out their record books and learning special skills needed to complete these activities. She is a winner even before walking into the ring. And she realizes this is true.

Let us turn to the unsung heroes of our youth program—the volunteers. The hundreds of hours they donate, the efforts they make to come out on their day off, to stay up late, to donate money and services, to provide guidance and examples to our youth, and to serve on boards, to lead clubs and chapters, to donate experiences so children can learn.

These adults both young and old have a common interest. They were children once too, and maybe not all of them had the same chance and therefore want to increase the opportunities for today’s young generation. Maybe they did have youth livestock experiences and hope to share this opportunity with others. They could be a grandparent, a mother or father, an uncle or aunt, a neighbor or a friend who has the interests of others in mind and whose reward are the bright eyes, the smiles, the attentive child caring for a creature—these are the rewards most meaningful to our volunteers.

Adult volunteers make our community great. They coach little league, they teach music, they organize and lead 4H clubs and FFA chapters, they provide the learning opportunities needed to develop young people into grownups. In addition to important family guidance and rearing, volunteers complement the life experiences, adding to the solid foundation our children need for a good start: A selfless donation rewarded by the response seen in children thriving as they learn.

A final thank you to the many sponsors, the donors of material, time, equipment, supplies, feed, and opportunity, the buyers who anchor our sale, these are all sponsors of “our” children’s experience. The 2019 sale was the highest gross per animal sold when compared to the last 7 years sales results. The CMR leadership deserves credit for trying, for wanting to; this too makes them winners.

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Carl C. Stafford, a certified forage and grassland professional, is the senior extension agent in Culpeper County with the Virginia Cooperative Extension.