4-H offers family time, life lessons

An older man and a young man stand next to each other smiling.
Mississippi 4-H'er Nic Carter and his grandfather, Wallace Outlaw

Raising championship hogs is a family tradition for Humphreys County 4-H’er Nic Carter, and the college freshman is leaving big boots for his sister and cousins to fill.

Carter and his sister, Mari Bess, won three titles at the 2014 Dixie National Junior Round-up. In his final competition, two of their hogs qualified for the Sale of Junior Champions. One was named the Champion Duroc Hog and Mississippi-bred Champion Duroc Hog. The other was named the Mississippi-bred Grand Champion Barrow.

“I’ve been in Dixie National Sale of Junior Champions six times,” Carter said. “My sister and I take care of six pigs at my grandfather’s place, and getting into the sale means a lot for our family. It takes a lot of work to get to the sale, and it’s nice to recoup some of the money for feed, for breeding pigs, and for investing for the future.”

Carter’s grandfather, Wallace Outlaw of Belzoni, has been teaching children about showing hogs for decades.

“Nic’s mom started showing hogs when she was 8 years old,” Outlaw said. “I kept pigs until my grandkids got old enough. Nic is the eldest, and he’s been showing since he was 8. I’ve got eight grandkids, and all of them are showing but one, who is too young.”

Carter’s mother, Lacey Outlaw Myers, said 4-H was always part of her plan for her children.

“It was never a question of whether or not my children would be involved in 4-H,” Myers said. “It was a way of life for us growing up and is such a wonderful organization to be a part of. I really wanted my children to experience that for themselves.

“Nicholas has been involved with pigs since he was a toddler and would have been a 4-H member since then if they allowed them that early,” she said.

Myers said 4-H volunteer leaders and agents have mentored both Nic and Mari Bess.

“I believe that my children display the influences of 4-H in their everyday lives,” she said. “There have been so many wonderful people involved in 4-H through the years. They have helped mold my children into the young adults they are today.”

Carter said the skills he has learned in 4-H will go with him for the rest of his life.

“Everything in life is about hard work and working with others. 4-H certainly teaches you about hard work, sportsmanship, dedication, and good ethics,” he said.

Focus is another skill he has learned during his 4-H showmanship career. family time, offers Carter said he has always been interested in pigs, and his focus has paid off.

“In 4-H, hogs have been my only project,” he said. “That’s what we know and what we’re good at. I’ve been all over the U.S. showing pigs—Texas, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Kentucky—to national level shows and sales.”

These trips, usually taken with his grandfather, have kept Carter informed about changes in showmanship and styles of showing.

“Nicholas has always been close to my father, but 4-H has allowed them to spend even more time with each other,” Myers said. “Most children seem to outgrow hanging out with their parents and grandparents too soon, but Nicholas has always been much happier at the farm with my dad than anywhere else. This is the one thing I have to say I’m most grateful to 4-H for.”

Carter is finishing his first year at Mississippi Delta Community College and plans to transfer to Mississippi State University to pursue a degree in agribusiness.

“I want to take our breeding program to the next level,” he said. “It’s been a great hobby to share with my grandfather, but I want to keep my sister and cousins at the top for years to come.”

By Keri Collins Lewis

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Extension Matters Volume 1 Number 1.