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Showing their best: The Carter County Junior Livestock Show Youth Ambassadors demonstrate the importance of agriculture

Drew Butler
dbutler@gannett.com
The 2020-2021 Carter County Junior Livestock Youth Ambassadors serve the community by demonstrating the importance of agriculture and act as a link between adults and children. The group is composed of teens from several local schools. From left to right: Piper Dudley and Barrett Allen from Dickson FFA, Emma Moore from Plainview 4-H, Lexi Henderson and Cassidy Baughman from Lone Grove FFA, Presley Tivis and Daja Petties from Fox FFA, and Danielle Brooks from Wilson FFA.
Cassidy Baughman of Lone Grove with her sheep at a show in Arizona.
Daja Petties of Fox shows her pig.
Danielle Brooks of Wilson works with her cattle prior to a show.
Emma Moore of Plainview shows her cow at a show.
Lexi Henderson of Lone Grove sheers her calf.
Piper Dudley of Dickson shows her cow at a show.
Presley Tivis of Fox bonds with her show pig.

The members of the Carter County Junior Livestock Show Youth Ambassadors have recently been elected to office. The teens go to different schools within the county and have been showing animals for a number of years. They serve as examples of the importance of agriculture to the community. They also serve as examples to younger students who have just begun showing animals and as a link to younger students to adults.

Linda Baughman, a teacher at Lone Grove Middle School, is the current ambassador sponsor. She said the group was only recently elected to office and will soon begin speaking to various civic and community organizations about the importance of agriculture in our area. They will also be volunteering as bell ringers with the Salvation Army.

One of their most important duties, however, is helping with the plans for the upcoming Carter County Junior Livestock show, which is currently scheduled for March.

“Right now, the plans are in the works, and we’re hoping for all of the dates and events to go on as usual,” she said. ‘We’re hoping for the best, and of course we’ll make changes as we need to make sure we’re doing what is safest for everybody. It just might end up looking a little different than in years past.”

The ambassadors have all been showing livestock for several years, so their knowledge and experience is especially important for younger children who may not have any experience with livestock — or have any real idea of where their food really comes from.

Ambassador Barrett Allen, from Dickson, related a prime example of this by telling  a story from earlier this school year. Because the younger students were unable to go to the pumpkin patch because of coronavirus, the school brought the patch to them. Several high schoolers involved in FFA brought their show animals to the event and taught them about livestock while running a petting zoo.

“You’d ask the little kids where your milk comes from, and they’d say the grocery store,” Barrett said. “Or they might think chocolate milk comes from brown cows. That’s why we’re here to help educate them.”

Ambassador Cassidy Baughman, of Lone Grove, said raising and showing animals provides a unique experience and underlines the importance of responsibility in ways other extracurricular activities cannot.

“This is a living, breathing animal,” she said. “If you don’t feed it, water it, and take care of it, that animal dies. So, the consequences of missing a day are so much worse than skipping a day of other after-school activities. It teaches you that your actions have real consequences.”

All the ambassadors agreed that showing livestock can sometimes be extra tricky because animals can have minds of their own and do not always want to cooperate.

“Sometimes the animals don’t want to listen, and they will act up, so you’ve got to learn to have patience,” Danielle Brooks of Wilson said. “ You don’t speak the same language, so you have to learn the best way to communicate and work with them.”

In addition to the enjoyment they all receive from working with their animals, all the ambassadors agree that meeting new friends is another excellent benefit of being an ambassador and showing livestock in general.

“It’s a great atmosphere where you can become friends with people from different schools who you may not typically get to meet,” Cassidy Baughman said. “It’s always a really good time.”