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4-H youth showcase results of hard work at Bannock County Fair

By John O’Connell

University of Idaho

Braiden Wilde and his goat Nibbles had a daily routine leading up to the Bannock County Fair, which was held Aug. 7-12 in Downey.

In preparation for the University of Idaho Extension 4-H Youth Development Goat Show, the 11-year-old Inkom boy would walk Nibbles back and forth on his long driveway while his family members offered their feedback.

Then he’d practice showing Nibbles in the family’s small, private arena.

For 4-H youth involved in animal projects throughout the state, fair season is the fruition of countless hours of care and preparation, but the rewards cannot be overstated.

In addition to learning important life skills through their animal projects, generous local businesses and supporters will pay thousands of dollars for top animals during sales following the shows in support of the youth.

Those funds help children in several ways, including saving for college, financing faith-based missions or even starting a small business.

Nibbles, who was part of the Aug. 9 goat competition, was Braiden’s third fair goat.

“This one is really good. He’s really sweet,” Braiden said. “I love the goats’ personalities. Nibbles is very inquisitive. He likes to look at stuff and figure out what stuff is.”

His siblings Brody, 15, and Brooklyn, 17, also showed animals at the fair. Brooklyn has shown animals for about a decade.

“The things I’ve learned help me in other areas of my life. It’s helped me to be able to talk to people and express things that I know, and keep calm in stressful situations,” Brooklyn said.

During past fairs, the Wilde kids have sold animals for much more than market value to local 4-H supporters, saving their profits for college, though in their father’s estimation, the far greater value of the animal projects is the responsibility they learn and the knowledge they gain.

Lydia and Jed Townsend, 15-year-old twins from Inkom, both showed steer. They’ve also shown pigs and horses at the fair and have used profits from their sales to buy school clothes and save for college.

They live on a family farm that’s no longer in production, aside from 4-H animal projects. The twins are third-generation 4-H participants.

“I don’t think I would be half as good at sports if I didn’t have 4-H,” Lydia said. “It gives me a lot of work ethic. It makes me stick with things and have patience and have good sportsmanship because things don’t always go your way.”

Hannah Cogdill, 18, of McCammon, showed her first goat last year. The experience prompted her to purchase a couple of goats with elite bloodlines and start breeding show goats to sell through her own small business.

She’s taken out a USDA starter loan in support of the business venture. Cogdill showed a 5-month-old goat named Promise that she bred through her business. Promise won every class that Cogdill entered.

Kaycie Parker, 11, of Arimo, said she learned sportsmanship and showmanship through raising her goat, Linda.

Kaycie, who hopes to one day be a professional rodeo star, has found Linda can be stubborn at times but she also likes playing and being with friends.

Kaycie’s big brother, who also showed goats during his childhood, now lives in Challis, where he makes a side income selling doe goats for others to use in 4-H projects.

Her mother, Amy Parker, believes her kids have been well prepared for life’s challenges thanks in part to what they’ve learned through 4-H.

“The life skills you gain – they have you do a record book and you learn finances. You learn how to manage your time. You learn you are in charge of something besides yourself, like a living animal, and you learn sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, and that’s OK,” Amy Parker said.

UI Extension delivers 4-H in Idaho. The program engages more than 70,000 Idaho youth.