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Home Grown: 4-H Program wraps as student gear up for next year

YUMA, Ariz. (KYMA, KECY) - In today's Home Grown, kids of all ages are tasked with a big responsibility of being a meat producer, and they got the chance to showcase their talent at the Yuma County Fair. 

"It is very special the bond between us. He's been very good to me and everything about him," said 11-year-old Jessi Hancock who is in the 4-H Program. "He's been so good."

The Yuma County 4-H Youth Development Program has two categories of judgement.

"This week we've been doing showmanship which is basically what you do is you go in the ring and you just show your ability to control your animal," Hancock explained.

Showmanship evaluates the kid, according to area associate agent of the 4-H Amy Parrott.

"Showmanship is always by age because they're showing against other competitors their age to make it fair, and then with market, everything is by weight," Parrott stated. "So, they're comparing apples to apples."

Market critiques the animal's appearance, as explained by Austin Johnson, a student 4-H ambassador.

"The judges are judging the cattle on like how big their legs are, how much width they have and how they move," Johnson said.

Practice makes perfect, and they say raising a farm animal is comparable to a full-time job. 

"There's no way an 11-year-old can maneuver a 1,400-pound steer unless they've worked with it everyday," Parrott explained. "So, it really is a commitment. It's a year-long commitment."

A bond between the producer and the animal is what allows the kid or teen to control their animal.

"Mostly, at the beginning, you just kind of like get them used to you and then you break them which is kind of like you put a halter on them and everything, start walking them, and then you have to wash them once every day," Hancock said.

As the 70th annual Yuma County fair wraps up, kids ages five to 19 have loaded their animals onto a truck, but they will start the cycle all over again as early as this week.

"Last year was really hard, but this year I think is going to be the hardest," Hancock explained. "He's been so good to me."

The goodbye's are always the toughest, but the next round of responsibility is only beginning as some of the kids are now getting their animals for the 2023 Yuma County Fair.

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April Hettinger

April was born and raised in San Diego where she loved the beach town and her two dogs, Lexi and Malibu. She decided to trade the beach for the snow and advanced her education at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff.

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