MHS Students dedicate themselves to 4-H


By Elyse Trendell | A&E Editor

Head, heart, hands and health are the four words 4-H students live by, from elementary school through high school. Although 4-H consists of more than raising animals, many recognize the program for just that. Jodi Mork, a junior, said 4-H offers curricula for beef, cats, dairy cattle, dairy goats, dogs, horses, meat goats, poultry, rabbits, sheep and swine.

“4-H is a lot about the animals and the care that goes into each one,” Mork said.

Students buy their own animals and raise them for auctioning or showcasing. An auction steer is raised specifically for getting the best quality of meat from the cow, and a show cow can be any gender, heifer, steer or bull, so long as it is tame. Mork, who has primarily worked with her dogs in the past, is raising auction steers this year for the first time.

“I decided to raise an auction steer this year,” Mork said. “Even though it can be a lot of work, it is kind of fun.”

On the weekend of March 9, those auctioning off their animals participate in a pre-fair weigh-in. This weigh-in determines the animals starting weight at fair and also gives the student an idea of what they need to do in order to prepare for the final weigh-in during the summer.

The goal of the participants is to get their livestock to a weight that is just right for the maximum profit at the auction. Clay Messerle, a senior, has raised both auction steer and show- cows for nine years.

“The weight I was hoping for was around 650 pounds, but my steer weighed 710,” Messerle said.

After the pre-fair weigh-in, Messerle will work to get his animal to a perfect weight by the time the event arrives.

“The day after the pre-fair weigh-in, I start feeding my steer premium show chow that is made specifically for auction steers to help them build muscle and put on weight,” Messerle said. “I start out at one pound of food a day, then two pounds, three pounds, and so on until I get to 30 pounds a day. I continue to feed them that much per day until fair.”

The animals are later weighed again at the fair, and fair-goers bid on the animal they want. The profits go to the students, who can use the money however they want. Mork uses her money to break even, but states it gives some a chance to save money for college.

“It depends on if you show or auction your animals,” Mork said. “If you auction animals you can make a couple hundred to a few thousand dollars.”

While it is true money can be made through 4-H, participants said it requires a lot of hard work, time and effort. Many give up their free time on the weekends; Mork maintains it is not for the unmotivated.

Sophomore Lauren Tripp, who raises sheep with her sister Kaila Tripp, a senior, believes the more time one puts into the program, the more benefits they will reap at fair. She said she has had a good experience with the program.

“It’s a commitment, but it’s really fun. You meet a lot of new people through the program. I have friends that I would’ve never met if it weren’t for 4-H,” Tripp said. “You also make a ton of great memories at fair.”