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Bidders show generosity at Sale of Champions
JACKSON, Miss. -- Before Carson Keene sold his grand champion Duroc hog at the Dixie National Sale of Junior Champions, he had a conversation with his family about where the proceeds should go.
The 12-year-old 4-H'er and sixth-grader at Presbyterian Christian School in Petal had known for several months that his 6-year-old schoolmate Noelle Carter was awaiting treatment at Batson Children's Hospital for liver cancer. He decided to donate the auction proceeds to Carter's family.
“Our school was raising money, and I wanted to try to do something, too,” Keene said.
His generosity set the tone for buyers, who continued to add money to the winning total until the donation reached more than $20,000.
Keene’s stepsister, Alexandra Pittman, had similarly raised funds for a spina bifida patient at a previous sale.
“We saw what a blessing that was for him, and Alexandra explained to Carson that he was going to get more of a blessing out of this than any win or sale in his life,” said Allen Keene, Carson’s father. “I’m proud of my son for using the blessings we have to bless others, and that’s what this program is about.”
Bidders rewarded Keene and fellow exhibitors of 43 champion market animals at the annual sale Feb. 9. During the weeklong 2017 Dixie National Livestock Show in Jackson, judges selected 14 hogs, 10 goats, 10 lambs and nine steers for the sale. The preliminary sale total is $325,875.
The preliminary total proceeds for these animals were; hogs, $122,425; goats, $61,150; lambs, $59,600; and steers, $82,700.
The show included 1,628 4-H and FFA members and 2,406 head of livestock.
Dean Jousan, Mississippi State University Extension Service 4-H livestock specialist, said the experiences participants had preparing for the show and sale would serve them well as adults.
“The young people who have champion market animals at this show began the process of raising them many months ago,” he said. “This event is a culmination of the countless hours of hard work they have put in and the life skills they have learned during that time.”
The Dixie National Sale of Junior Champions Committee raised money to award scholarships to the sale participants. The committee awarded 25 $1,500 scholarships to high school seniors, six $2,000 scholarships to premier exhibitors and six $1,500 scholarships to exhibitors of supreme champion livestock.
Since the scholarship program began in 1993, committee members have awarded $774,200 in scholarship money to 4-H and FFA members.
One of this year’s recipients was Calhoun County 4-H’er C.J. Weddle, who said she plans to attend MSU this fall and major in agricultural education, communications and leadership. She earned a scholarship for having a premier meat goat featured at the sale in 2014.
“My 4-H and FFA projects have not only taught me to compete to the best of my ability, but to win humbly and lose graciously,” she said. “The final stretch of my dream is to be sitting in this crowd 10 years from now as an MSU Extension agent, hopefully watching one of my county’s 4-H’ers deliver a speech or receive a scholarship from the Sale of Champions.”
Having just completed its 48th event, the sale has generated more than $6.5 million through livestock sales. The sale began in 1970 as a way to encourage young people to pursue livestock projects.