It’s about cattle, and more
CHEROKEE – Determination, sparked by a love for livestock, is reflected in members of Cherokee County’s Stockmen’s 4-H Club.
“There’s excitement shown by club members of all ages about what they’re learning and doing,” said Debbie Erpelding, Extension youth coordinator for Cherokee County.
“This club is a very active club. Its 20 members all work together when there are projects to be done; with their parents there to help out,” Erpelding said. “This means a lot, and they’re all wonderful kids.
“The members from throughout the county not only do a good job in the show ring when it’s fair time, but also take on numerous community projects that can spotlight the importance of livestock production which is important in Cherokee County.”
The ongoing renovation of the cattle barn at the Cherokee County Fair Grounds is but one example of these community projects, Erpelding said.
The barn’s new cement floor is financed in part through the Cherokee County Legacy Foundation, made possible through allocation of a percentage of commercial gaming tax revenues given to Iowa counties.
Earlier renovation work done by club members on a volunteer basis has included painting of the barn and installation of a new electrical system. Community fund drives helped with these efforts.
“The idea for the cattle barn improvements came about after we got to talking at one of our meetings about what we could do as a community project,” said Bailey Gaydo, a seven-year Stockmen’s Club member who has served as club president for the past two years. “Everyone, again working together, felt the idea was a good one, so we started coming up with ideas on how to finance the work.”
Gaydo said this process exemplifies how the club meets its goal of working together, individual club members growing in livestock husbandry.
Gaydo said it’s rewarding to help younger club members get established in club work.
Assisting as she does with special 4-H training sessions, including one in March on livestock feeding, can help younger members immensely, Gaydo said.
“At the same time I feel these experiences enable me to learn who I am” and “about livestock production.”
Soon to be a 2016 Washington High School graduate, Gaydo will be enrolling at South Dakota State University, in Brookings, South Dakota, where she will major in animal science to pursue a career in agriculture.
“What I’ve learned through here with the opportunities in 4-H club work I feel will be beneficial, too, in my own career goals,” she said.
Her initial interest in working with cattle was fostered by assisting her parents, Tim and Jen Gaydo, with the family’s purebred Gelbvieh cattle operation, and her own participation in various state, regional and national junior Gelbvieh competitions.
These activities were later to foster her desire to participate in her current county 4-H club work.
Among major winners in the 2015 Cherokee County Fair’s 4-H competitions, Gaydo is now keeping a watchful eye on her 2016 entries, Big Boy, her market steer, and Sparkler, her Gelbvieh heifer.
Gaydo met with three second-year members – Jaylee Happe, Ava Simonsen and Paige Schlenger – who were taking a break from an animal nutrient training session at the Cherokee County Extension office.
The three said that their opportunity to be with friends and a family member while working with livestock was fun and something new to do. There is, however, something more happening than hanging out and having fun.
“Yes, if you advance to the top of the class and you win something you’ve something to remember, and sometimes you make money,” Happe said. “But we’re learning something else, too; how to select, handle and care for our livestock and growing within ourselves.”
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