4-H is not only a life builder, but also a great way for students aged 5-18 to find their competitive side. This year, Helix High School has four competitive swine showers. The most experienced is Junior Colton Reynolds, then his sister, Freshman Karalin Reynolds, Sophomore Kyleen Stahancyk, and sister, Freshman Ryann Stahancyk.
Swine is not only a very competitive category, but it's also a great way for students to learn skills such as responsibility, teamwork, and discipline. “Showing pigs has showed me how to juggle my time, and what it’s like to care for something other than myself,” said Colton Reynolds.
Showing animals at 4H is also a great way to make some money. When students are done with their two days of showing an animal, on the third day they are in the sale ring getting the highest bids on their pig. The average amount of money that is usually received at a show is $600-$900. Students can sell their pig or animal anywhere they choose to show.
Swine showing started on farms all over the world roughly one hundred years ago. “I didn't realize how long ago swine showing started, it’s cool to see how much it's changed from back then,” says Ryann Stahancyk. Farmers from all over their town would bring their best-looking pigs to one place and judge which one had the best qualities and characteristics for breeding. Eventually, the farmers would bring in a judge from somewhere else to judge their pigs. Soon, the pigs were put in different brackets by their weight and then they got judged.
All the Helix High School 4Hers will be receiving their pigs this February instead of December as they usually do. They are receiving them from a farmer in Iowa who is delivering them to the area in February.
Swine showing is a very competitive part of 4-H. Many students in the south spend thousands of dollars on a pig just to receive a grand champion and in many cases, two times the amount they originally spent on the pig.
The group can also receive many different awards and scholarships through raising and showing pigs, including awards such as the Garber Family Scholarship. To be considered for this $1,000 scholarship they must have been a 4-H Club member for a least two years, a leader among your peers, and a volunteer in the community, and plan to attend a two or four-year college.
Pigs are a very smart creature and can be great partners if their owners work with them. Some swine showers forget the part about working with their animals. They just assume that their pig will be good enough to make them some money and that's about it. “Last year was my second year showing pigs in 4-H. I wanted to work my pig as much as I possibly could, but my sister was the opposite and she was my ride, so I only made it out there when she did,” says Ryann Stahancyk.
However, working with the animal can be very beneficial to the owner. When they get in the show ring with their animal and the judge is judging them on confirmation, which is the cut and look of the pig. They get into the ring and their animal listens very well and makes himself look good which as a result, rewards them with a Grand Champion.
On the following day they go into the ring again, however this time the judge is judging the person, not the pig. The judge looks at how well they guide the pig and how they make the pig look good. Judges like it when the pig listens to the owner. As a result of these showmans skills, they may receive a grand champion on their skills because of how the pig worked.
The highest ranked showmans sell first and usually make the most money, unless they have people who want to buy their animal from them. “My first year I won Grand Champion in confirmation, and a lot of money,” says Colton Reynolds.
4-H is a great way to get involved and learn valuable life lessons. If you are a teen who wants to get involved then 4-H is the thing for them. There are many different things they can do such as cooking, sewing, art, shooting, and many more.