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Youth are the Heart of PA’s Pair of National Dairy & Livestock Shows

October 13, 2017 12:00 AM

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Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center​, where we recently hosted a pair of highly-regarded national agriculture shows: the All-American Dairy Show and the KeystoneInternational Livestock Expo​ (KILE).

They are premier stops on the show road. The All-American, held in mid-September, is the largest dairy show in North America. KILE, which wrapped up this first weekend of October, is the largest livestock show on the east coast. And both carry a heavy focus on educating the next generation of agriculturalists and consumers.

Both shows host judging contests that test how well 4-H, FFA and collegiate contestants can evaluate classes of four dairy cattle or livestock, and how well they can defend their decisions before a judge. Without notes. In a private room. Hours after they’ve reviewed the classes. As someone who has participated in such contests, I can attest that it’s a difficult task, but one that helps hone a host of skills.

They’re also host to management contests that test their overall knowledge of what it takes to be a stockman – feeds, forages, equipment, animal breeds and more. These contests attract youth from a host of states – 4-H clubs, FFA chapters and colleges from Florida to California and everywhere in between.

It was a pleasure to be at each show. The people I meet represent the best of our agriculture industry. Their concerns are real, their insights are essential, and their friendships are treasured. But what is most gratifying to me, is knowing that they are opportunities for the next generation of agriculturalists – and, more broadly, the next generation of consumers – to gain skills, knowledge and appreciation through these experiences.

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