Holtville High School Viking Page Edition
BY SETH HILFIKER
…Into the ring he stepped, immediately he put on his game face, and went to work. He watched the judges every move, and swiftly and smoothly changed stances to present his goat as best he could…he thinks back to all the years of hard work, and dedication to showing junior livestock, and how each and every time he stepped into the ring, he didn’t know what to expect.
The livestock show industry has been around the United States for decades, and it is gaining popularity among the youth in the Imperial Valley, and especially in Holtville. Jackpot style shows and county fairs gives showmen in the Valley a chance to go up against some of the best showmen in California, Arizona, and even Southwestern United States.
Being in the Junior Livestock Industry definitely has its perks, from learning how to effectively train, care for, and show livestock, to making lasting memories and traveling to various jackpots and shows. But that’s not all, an article “Importance of Youth Livestock Shows” published by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, found that a study, done in 2015, at the Texas A&M University found that “…the most important life skill developed through the exhibition of livestock by 4-H and FFA youth was social relations.
This contrasts earlier findings, which suggests that development of responsibility was the most important benefit of livestock exhibition. Because social relations are learned and aid in the development of a person, they are considered a life skill” (Niemeyer, 2015). Later in the article another statement is given “…There are many positive outcomes for youth and helping youth with these activities.
Participants in the study revealed that character development was a close second to social development as the most important benefit of competitive livestock exhibition. Responsibility was identified as being developed through the attention, time and care that animal project requires. Confidence was instilled in the exhibitors because they see that they can take care of an animal. Sportsmanship developed through livestock showing because it is a competitive event. Exposure to loss at an early age helps prepare youth for similar situations that will happen in life.
The participants perceived these meanings as a builder of character, which is an essential life skill” (Niemeyer, 2015). Now, many of you are probably wondering, just who are these kids in the valley, especially Holtville, that currently are in the show industry.
Some kids in Holtville such as Sydney Mange, Keeili Poloni, and Seth Hilfiker have been showing livestock for a good portion of their childhood, and continue to do so. Even younger showmen like Mckenzie Toth, and Smith Hilfiker also take advantage of the opportunities that the livestock show industry offers.
Recently, in Cottonwood Arizona, these showmen competed at the Cottonwood S.A.I.L.A. Jackpot Show. With Seth and Sydney being in highschool, they compete in the “Senior” class of showmen, competing with some of the best in Arizona and California. As for Mckenzie, Smith, and Silas Hilfiker, they compete on the “junior class.”
These showmen are in charge of grooming, preparing, and weeks upon weeks of training to prepare for a jackpot show. “The work starts at home,” Seth states. “…I try to help these younger kids as much as I can with training and showing their animals…these jackpot shows can be pretty hard to finish decent at, and i try to give them, and I, the best chance possible. At these shows, everyone helps each other, no matter who you are, people in the show industry are really great” (Hilfiker).
Mckenzie Toth a young showmen in the junior class gives an idea of what it is like to show goats “…it is really hard to get a goat to start walking and bracing at home…sometimes it gets really frustrating, and my goat doesn’t work well, but eventually with a little bit of help from my mom, dad, Seth, and momma Sara, he starts to work with me…then going to the shows is fun, and i show against a lot of kids my age”(Toth). These showmen are dedicated to what they do, and most of them plan to continue in the industry, even after high school. Showing at jackpots really give these kids a headstart in learning opportunities, and in a couple years who knows where they could be showing.