Jackson County 4-H and Smoky Mountain FFA Join Continue to Provide Youth With Agricultural Opportunities

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Jackson County 4-H and Smoky Mountain FFA are excited to continue their partnership that provides Jackson County youth with endless opportunity to develop life skills through agriculturally focused education in the form of projects and career development events related to livestock selection and evaluation. The Jackson County Youth Livestock group, currently made up of around 10 members, began meeting earlier this year on a bi-monthly basis on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays. Topics for the meetings have consisted of various livestock industry topics including general livestock management tools and practices (ear tagging, deworming, castrations, etc.) and the majority of the group is currently about to begin their sheep projects.

Show lambThe Jackson County Youth Sheep Project teaches fundamental production methods of the current sheep industry and allows youth to explore the areas of animal husbandry, livestock selection and evaluation, health management and even meat science. Sheep projects include market lambs and breeding ewes. The main objectives for the sheep project however, include:

  1. developing life skills essential for becoming skilled, productive, and responsible citizens
  2. cultivating skills and interests that can assist in future career preparation
  3. developing quality leadership skills that promote positive youth development
  4. learning to value and apply ethical, industry-accepted practices and research findings in specific project areas

Youth, along with their family, that are involved in the Sheep Project have made a commitment to work with their project animal on a regular basis (daily) and keep it clipped, clean, and exercised, for the duration of the project. As a participant youth will also be completing a Project Record Book which will assist them in developing other life skills such as responsibility, goal setting, record keeping, stress management, and self-discipline. The project begins Thursday, May 11, when lambs are picked up, and will go through late August and/or September, when youth will show their lambs at the local agricultural fair livestock shows, such as the Swain County Fair.

Livestock Club showing at Swain FairThe Jackson County Youth Sheep Project is currently seeking sponsorship to help youth pay for their project animals as well as feed and equipment (halters and buckets). If you would be interested in speaking with someone related to sponsorship or involvement in the group may find out more information by contacting Kendra Fortner at the N.C. Cooperative Extension, Jackson County Center at 828-586-4009 or by email at kendra_norton@ncsu.edu. If you are located in Swain County there is an existing Swain County 4-H Livestock Club you may contact through the N.C. Cooperative Extension, Swain County Center at 828-488-3848.