4-H livestock and animal projects inspire lifelong learning in young people.
4-H members can enroll in horse, dog, cat, cow, sheep, goat, swine, poultry and rabbit animal projects. They can begin as early as 8 years old in our junior level division.
These projects teach some very important life skills. The value of hard work and responsibility is instilled in these members. 4-H members must care for and manage their animals on a daily basis. This requires education in sound animal husbandry practices.
They learn to feed, water and clean their animals for optimum animal health and safety. This includes learning about land and pasture management techniques to best maintain and conserve the environment their animals are on.
Members must complete a record book for any 4-H project. Record books teach them how to set SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-based) goals. They also teach profit/loss accounting and budgeting, storytelling and proper record-keeping. These skills can all be used throughout life.
Many of the beautiful local ranches and farms throughout La Plata County and beyond have a 4-H connection. Generations of families have believed in these values to pass down to our youths. It is important that we keep young people inspired and engaged in agriculture.
The 4-H programs in our region have teamed up to put on the San Juan Basin 4-H Livestock Workshop Series. Aaron Preator, youth livestock agent from New Mexico State University in San Juan County, will be doing four workshops in our area. The first will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Feb. 22 at the La Plata County Fairgrounds Extension Office, 2500 Main Ave.
The first class will focus on how to select your animal project, specifically, how to get the most out of your market sheep, goat or swine project. Other classes will address feeding and nutrition, daily care and health, and fitting and showing your project animal.
These workshops are for beginners new to 4-H or for experienced members. They are a great way to meet and ask questions of knowledgeable people in the field and connect with other young people doing the same projects.
Are you interested but don’t have the land or facilities to raise a livestock animal? We can work on this. I have recently been approached by a community partner and other landowners who would be willing to open their land to 4-H members. If you are interested, call me at 382-6463.
Lastly, I wanted to make a plug for our annual 4-H Rabbit Camp. This is a great way to learn about raising a small animal. This is open to new and old 4-H members. For more information, call the Extension Office at 382-6468.
Greg Felsen is the La Plata County 4-H youth development agent. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 382-6463.