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Cottonwood County 4-H'ers connect with local professionals to learn about showing sheep and cattle

Each spring the Minnesota 4-H Foundation distributes grants to 4-H clubs who want to make a difference in their community. We will be featuring one grantee every month this year to celebrate all the wonderful ways Minnesota 4-H'ers are living out the 4-H Pledge. Our September featured grantee hosted a clinic to teach 4-H youth about showing beef and lambs. We hope you enjoy their story.

Cottonwood County 4-H hosted a clinic with their 2015 Helping Hands grant, educating area youth on showing cattle and sheep. Partnered with the Springfield Co-op Creamery and Show Rite/Hubbard Feeds as well as with local experts, the event taught fitting, showmanship, show ring etiquette, and nutrition throughout the day. The event drew youth from four counties, aged 7-16, as well as many interested adults. It was a way to network with and learn from stock show professionals, who critiqued their animals and offered tips on how to best exhibit them.

To learn more about the Cottonwood County Beef and Lamb Fit event, I spoke with several people who made the event a success: Aubree Paplow, the youth leader, and Hilary Paplow and Crystal Reith, adult leaders.

Madeleine Miller: Where did youth get the idea to host this clinic?
Crystal Reith: After an impromptu beef fitting demonstration at the 2014 county fair, families requested that we have a fitting and showmanship clinic so they could learn more about these areas. At our fall livestock project committee meeting, the idea, clinicians, and topics were discussed. The clinic expanded to also include sheep.

Aubree Paplow: I wanted to learn more about how to take care of and get my calf ready to show, and asked my mom if she could teach me. Other 4-H members were also looking for this experience.

Hilary Paplow: At the 2014 fair, I noticed a lot of 4-H'ers did not know a lot about how to get their animals ready for the show. I was approached by a couple of volunteers willing to give a fitting clinic. From there things started lining up!

MM: What were the best parts of the clinic?
AP: I liked the showmanship part the best. After the clinic I was better able to take care of my animal and felt more comfortable helping get my animals ready for the fair.

MM: How is Cottonwood County 4-H continuing this project in 2016?
CR: We are exploring other educational opportunities for youth in livestock species areas. Potential topics for future workshops include animal husbandry, healthy/nutrition, and care.

MM: Why should youth join 4-H, and why should adults support 4-H?
HP: Many youth do not realize what 4-H has given them until they are able to use the skills in everyday life. The confidence and ability to speak to people is a huge advantage when applying for colleges, jobs, etc. Adults have the ability to be a part of the learning process, as leaders and guides. You can see the changes 4-H has made on our youth first-hand.

CR: The 4-H program offers a plethora of educational, hands-on programs that allow youth the opportunity to explore and learn while creating bonds of friendship and connections with other youth and adults.

AP: 4-H allows youth to try and learn about many different project areas. Most of all, 4-H is fun!


Youth interested in showing animals - from cattle to llamas - can find many opportunities throughout the state. The Minnesota 4-H Foundation helps support these opportunities with annual Helping Hands Grants. Learn more and donate at!

By Madeleine Miller
Minnesota 4-H Foundation

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