Monday, Oct. 10, 2011
The Georgia House of Representatives, led by Rep. Lynn Smith of Newman, won the first annual Legislative Livestock Showdown at the Georgia National Fair in Perry, Oct. 8. Co-sponsored by the Georgia Department of Agriculture and the Georgia National Fair, this event brought together members of the Georgia General Assembly with members of Georgia's FFA and 4-H organizations.
"This is one element of the Department of Agriculture's outreach with our state legislators and our future agriculture leaders of tomorrow. The Department often works with FFA and 4-H groups during the year and this Livestock Showdown takes that relationship to a whole new level," said Gary W. Black, Georgia Agriculture Commissioner. "We look forward to making this annual event something that Georgia National Fair attendees - and future showdown participants - will all look forward to for years to come."
The two groups went head to head (or steer to steer, as the case may be) along with the help of 10 experienced livestock show participants. FFA members came from Lowndes County FFA, Perry FFA in Houston County, Coffee County FFA, Colquitt County FFA, and East Jackson FFA in Jackson County to participate in this year's event. Members of 4-H came from Jackson, Gordon, and Coweta counties.
Arch Smith, Georgia 4-H Director, said 4-H is always looking for ways to develop new partnerships between youth and adults. "This is an excellent opportunity for 4-H members to share what they have learned in their livestock projects with members of the Georgia legislature, and help lawmakers see firsthand the results of positive youth development programs like 4-H and FFA."
For FFA members, "learning is doing," when it comes to agriculture education here in Georgia, according to John "Chip" Bridges, Program Director for Agriculture Education at the Georgia Department of Education.
"I can think of no greater example of this principle than to have the opportunity for FFA members to be involved in the Legislative Livestock Showdown," Bridges said. "Partnering a member of the Georgia General Assembly with an FFA member for an afternoon of exhibiting livestock at the Georgia National Fair is definitely a unique learning experience for everyone - these FFA members will not soon forget this event."
Each legislator arrived at the Sutherland Livestock & Equine Arena prepared to meet their show family. Team members washed their individual steers. Once they were in the show-ring for the showmanship class, the legislators were judged on how they handled the animal. Each team member was ranked on a scale of 1-10 (10 points for first place, one point for 10th place). Points were tallied to determine the winning team.
Tom McCall, Captain, Elberta, District 30
Ed Lindsey, Brookhaven, District 54
Valerie Clark, Lawrenceville, District 104
Lynne Riley, Johns Creek, District 50
Lynn Smith, Newnan, District 70
Chuck Williams, Watkinsville, District 113
John Bulloch, Captain, Ochlocknee, District 11
Charlie Bethel, Dalton, District 54
Barry Loudermilk, Cartersville, District 52
Frank Ginn, Danielsville, District 47
Ben Fry, Chief of Staff to the Lt. Governor
Jim Williams, a heifer and steer show judge from Bowling, Texas, judged this first annual competition. Agriculture Commissioner Black and his daughter Caroline Black served as ringmasters along with Kate Wooten from Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Harris Blackwood, Director for the Governor's Office of Highway Safety, provided musical entertainment.
"The Georgia National Fair is proud to be the site for the first Legislative Livestock Showdown," said Randy Moore, Executive Director. "This is a great experience for our state legislators to learn what it takes to prepare an animal for showing. The Georgia National Fair thanks the members for sharing their time with our youth at the Fair."