Livestock camps prepare kids for fair time
By John O’Connell
DOWNEY, Idaho — Riley Kofford has attended the same summer day camp every year since he was 5 years old, when he’d tag along with his big sisters.
At Bannock County’s livestock day camp — a three-hour crash course in animal agriculture hosted by a team of University of Idaho Extension educators — Kofford explained presentations have prepared him for showing 4H animal projects during the annual county fair.
Livestock day camps have been organized for the past 18 years to prepare students within southern UI Extension district counties for fair competition.
“During the show, the judge will ask us a question, and you never know what it is going to be,” said Kofford, a junior at Marsh Valley High School in Arimo. “Knowing all about the animal you’re doing definitely helps you so you can answer the question correctly.”
Kofford, who shows market lambs, said he always learns something new at the day camp.
More than 50 students and several parents and siblings attended the Bannock County day camp on July 10. It was the last of eight southern district day camps, which started during the final week of June and were also hosted in Power, Bingham, Caribou, Bear Lake, Oneida, Bonneville and Teton counties. Organizers estimate 500-600 students attended the district’s day camps, which are offered free and include a meal.
Experts from each county present at every day camp to provide students a broad range of information. Southern district educators have partnered on camps in the past with other districts in Idaho, and even Wyoming and Utah extension educators to diversify the subject matter.
Ashley Tolman, Bannock County’s 4-H program assistant and organizer of the county’s day camp, said the turnout was encouraging, recalling past years when just three or four children participated.
Tolman’s presentation emphasized biosecurity, which she said is an especially important topic this summer as 4-H fairs seek to teach children steps to prevent outbreaks of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus on their own farms and in fairgrounds. The highly contagious disease has caused significant losses in the swine industry since first surfacing in the U.S. last May.
During his presentation on animal breeds, Power County Extension educator Reed Findlay engaged students in an interactive trivia card game. He explained day camps are open to any student with a 4-H project, but they tend to draw younger children, as the older kids are often busy with other summer activities.
Bingham County Extension educator Scott Nash offered students beef samples after discussing the different meat quality grades and preparation methods. He informed students that the most tender cuts come from supporting muscles, such as loins, while muscles used in movement, such as the rump, are tougher.
Children also heard Caribou County Extension educator Steve Harrison present on marketing fair animals and ultrasound use in animal agriculture and Oneida County Extension educator Meranda Hazelbaker discuss animal reproduction.