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Skill-a-thons offered to 4-H, FFA youth this summer

As South Dakota youth prepare for county and state livestock shows, many 4-H and FFA members also have the opportunity to join in the livestock skill-a-thons hosted during state livestock shows.

Coordinated by SDSU Extension, the events highlight and reward youth's knowledge within their animal projects. All 4-H and FFA members are encouraged to compete in these free events.

There will be age divisions for beginner, junior and senior. Youth do not need to be exhibitors in order to compete and no pre-registration is required. Participants can come during the time frame scheduled and expect to complete the contest in 20 to 30 minutes.

All 2013 livestock skill-athon awards have been sponsored by Fillbrandt's Bigg Dogg Agg, The POD and Dakota Ag Supply. The top five individuals in the three age divisions will be recognized. Winners will receive items to encourage future development of their own livestock projects. Awards will be presented during the various livestock shows.

SD Summer Spotlight

The South Dakota Summer Spotlight kicks off the first Livestock Skill-athon from 9 a.m. to noon on July 27 in the Livestock Complex at the State Fairgrounds in Huron.

The contest allows youth to demonstrate their understanding and practical application of livestock managerial skills in the beef, sheep, swine and meat goat areas.

Skill-a-thon stations will focus on animal selection, meats, animal health and welfare, nutrition and reproduction. Youth who participate in the skill-a-thon will be exposed to new technology being utilized in livestock production while performing hands on exercises and developing critical thinking and problem solving skills through activities.

State Fair skill-a-thons

The South Dakota State Fair will host four separate skill-a-thons: Beef, sheep, swine and, new to 2013, goat. On Aug. 30 the Swine Skill-a-thon will be from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Sheep Skill-a-thon from 4 to 8 p.m.; Aug. 31 will be the Beef Skilla-thon from 1 to 5 p.m., and the Goat Skill-a-thon from 5 to 8 p.m. The new Goat Skill-a-thon will expose youth to both the meat and dairy production sides of the goat project.

In addition to the livestock skill-a-thons at State Fair, 4-H youth ages 11 to 18 that are exhibiting beef, sheep or swine may enter the Premier Exhibitor Program.

Participants in this contest will practice their decision making and communication skills by competing in four events: Industry Interview, Skill-a-thon, Production and Management Quiz and Showmanship. A panel of judges, representing the South Dakota livestock industries, will ask a few questions during the industry interview and score youth on accuracy of their answers and overall presentation skills. Contact your local 4-H youth program adviser to register for Premier Exhibitor.

Western Junior Show

Finally, the Western Junior Show Oct. 9-12 in Rapid City will be adding a Livestock Skill-a-thon to its schedule for any youth to participate.

For a full list of rules and suggested study resources to help youth prepare for the skill-a-thons this summer, please reference the State Fair 4-H Division Handbook. If you have any other questions about the Premier Exhibitor or skill-a-thons, contact Megan Nielson, SDSU Extension 4-H youth livestock field specialist, at