By Tony Nichols
I’d like to share some thoughts with you that might surprise you.
Junior livestock shows don’t exist to promote livestock. They exist to promote young people.
They don’t exist to train youngsters for careers in production agriculture, but to help prepare them to be successful at whatever they choose to do.
When properly supervised by parents, vocational agriculture teachers and extension personnel, boys and girls can learn and develop in many ways by their involvement in livestock projects. The list includes: Patience, self-confidence, dependability, leadership, economic understanding, record keeping, accepting success humbly, accepting disappointment with character, solid work ethics, and listening to and following directions.
They learn that while animals have personality and can be great companions, they are not people and that their ultimate purpose in life is to provide high quality protein for human consumption.
Sometimes a show animal dies unexpectedly. That helps prepare kids emotionally, in a small way, to deal with the death of a family member or friend.
I’ve made these observations over a period of 40 years as a parent, grandparent, show board member, superintendent and general helper. Exhibitors, former exhibitors, and parents of exhibitors have worked for me and with me on my ranch.
It is not my intent to pat myself on the back, but rather to give credibility to my statements.
I hope you see that junior livestock projects are good for youth and help them become better adults.
Your concern might be: How do junior livestock shows affect the economy of Muskogee? I’m certain there will be a multi-county junior livestock show in this part of Oklahoma for a long time. I want it to be in Muskogee because this is convenient for the exhibitors, their families, and the many volunteer workers involved.
If another show starts up with better facilities and equal or better financial incentives, participation in ours could decline significantly. I’m sure you don’t want that to happen.
The economic benefit to Muskogee in sales tax revenue and the benefit to local businesses in sales are great.
During the weeks that shows are held in Muskogee many dollars are spent on food, motels, gasoline, clothes, etc. Estimates and surveys can put a dollar figure on that impact.
I think the greater impact is throughout the year. Families and friends of young people tend to patronize businesses that support their kids.
If you want people from other communities to come to Muskogee to buy food, clothes, automobiles, building materials, appliances, furniture, etc.; then I encourage you to consider better facilities and increased financial support for the Muskogee Regional and Muskogee County Livestock Shows.
Of course the facilities would need to be suitable for a wide variety of other activities and some of them would need to directly produce revenue.
Tony Nichols is the president of the Muskogee Regional Junior Livestock Show.