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4-H livestock projects draw "families" together
LAUREL, Miss. -- Win or lose, competing in livestock shows would not be possible without the help of others.
"Everyone helps everyone else," said Rustin Anderson, 17, of Jones County. "We're all like family, even though we are competing against each other."
Anderson, who has been showing Brangus cattle since 2009, is highly involved with the Jones County 4-H program. He serves as president of the junior livestock exhibitors for the county. He said the family atmosphere is what makes the program unique.
"You see the more experienced competitors giving pointers to the less experienced exhibitors," he said, "We all pitch in to help each other."
His mother, Robin Murry, agreed.
“I love the way our county comes together to support each other,” she remarked. “It brings my own family together.”
Anderson himself works hard helping his younger brothers and other members of the Jones County 4-H prepare for shows. The Mississippi State University Extension Service manages the 4-H Youth Development Program, which is open to youngsters from 5-18 years of age.
At the 2016 Mississippi State Fair in Jackson, Anderson and his younger brothers enjoyed competing. Anderson won grand champion Brangus heifer and placed first in the MSU Heifer Development Program for his Brangus heifer.
His younger brother Rowdy Anderson won grand champion Brangus heifer in the Mississippi Brangus Association show. Grey and Gus Murry, also younger brothers, enjoyed showing as well.
Anderson attributes his success to the input of others, such as his mother, who take care of the paperwork and keep everyone up to date on rules and regulations. Anderson said he appreciates guidance from Kim Hancock, the Jones County Extension agent.
“She is constantly thinking about our future and helping make our hobby of showing animals into something fun,” Anderson said. “Kim is always giving me pointers and constantly reminding me to do this or not to do this when it’s time for a show. She works really hard helping me perfect my showmanship.”
Anderson is not likely to forget his experiences in 4-H. The community feeling is universal among exhibitors and their families, even after 4-H careers conclude.
Lauren Cummings, a recent MSU graduate with a degree in animal and dairy sciences, said the family atmosphere associated with 4-H was what impacted her the most.
“Parents and volunteers pitched in to get kids to meetings and help get us to shows and competitions,” the Yazoo County native recalled of her days in 4-H. “I remember one big practice where we all worked together to help each other get our presentations together.”
To become involved in 4-H youth livestock projects, contact the local county Extension office.