Rain and wind didn't hamper one of the largest 4-H Junior Livestock Auction turnouts in recent years. Perhaps it was the inviting 4-H tent that sheltered bidders from the elements that drew people in and made the auction such a success, but realistically the cause for the success was the community and local business involvement.
"The weather is horrible, the people are wonderful," said Katie Moerlein, 4-H communications officer for the Kenai as well as a 4-H member. "The community came out and showed they really supported us. It's really exciting to feel this kind of community support," added Moerlein, who sold a championship hog.
However, that support didn't come without work and effort from each of the 4-H members. "Every 4-H'er who has an animal in market livestock is assigned ten business contacts," says Moerlein, "the 4-H members talk to the businesses and explain the program, the businesses fill out surveys, make donations, some do sealed bids if they can't come to the fair but still want to buy an animal," explained Moerlein. With more bidders at the auction this year, the animals were going for good prices, so all the time and effort put in by the 4-H'ers seemed to have paid off.
In addition to the sale price of the animal, the business community, individuals, friends and parents showed their support of the club member by making "add-ons." Add-ons are a unique feature of the 4-H Junior Livestock Auction, which allows anyone that doesn't want to actually purchase an animal, but still want to support the 4-H club member, to add-on to the sale price of the member's animal. Add-ons at Saturday's auction ranged from $10 to $100 from multiple donors and up to a figure per pound that was more than the sale price of the animal. "It's just awesome, I'm really happy. It isn't about the money, it's about the experience of raising the animal, but it helps when you get a good paycheck in the end," added Moerlein.
"Showing my lamb was the most fun, she was perfect!" said 9-year-old Kade Foust, who entered the Junior Livestock Auction for the first time this year. Foust selected the baby lamb himself this spring and named her "Angel." He was concerned about taking her to the fair and how she would behave with all the people, but said she acted just like her name and didn't get scared at all. Kade wasn't too sure about what he was going to do with the money he earned selling his lamb, maybe save some for college, but he was sure that he wanted to raise another lamb next year.
Other 4-H members knew exactly what they were going to do with their earnings. Tatiana Butler and her partners Logan and Walker Boyle, raised a trio of chickens so that they could use the funds to help send books to Papua New Guinea. "My uncle is a teacher in Papua New Guinea and has done the first translation into their native language. One day in an e-mail he told us about the grievous need they had there for books. We thought raising the chickens would be something we could do to help and get our schools involved. Our goal was 400 books, but now we have over 1,000. Selling our pen of chickens brought in about $700 today, so we should have enough now to ship all the books. It feels good, like we are having an impact on the world," said Butler. "I'm looking forward to sending the books, but it has taken us a long time to get the money up," commented Walker Boyle.
Boyle and his 5-and-a-half-year-old brother Logan hope that if they have any additional funds they will be able to help with the printing costs of the first book ever to be printed in the native language of Papua New Guinea. Tatiana said she would be glad to accept donations or discuss details with anyone that called her at 776-8428.
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