The Arlene and Joseph Meraux Charitable Foundation has given $150,000 to the LSU AgCenter Livestock Show — the largest single donation in the show’s 80-year history. The funds establish an endowment for Supreme Champion Animal awards in beef cattle, dairy, poultry, sheep, goats and swine. Ten winners will be selected at each Livestock Show and will receive academic awards of $1,000 each.
Hundreds of young people from across Louisiana were named state champions during the 82nd Annual LSU AgCenter Livestock Show held Feb. 11-18 at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center.
To qualify for the state show, competitors had to first participate in parish and district livestock shows across Louisiana. At the state show, 2,198 youths exhibited 1,806 breeding animals, 1,239 market animals and 435 pens of broilers and 1,057 exhibition birds, according to the LSU AgCenter Livestock Show manager Dwayne Nunez.
Judges at the LSU AgCenter Livestock Show determined more than 2,000 state champions in various breeds of beef and dairy cattle, goats, hogs, poultry and sheep.
Although the event showcases examples of the state’s important livestock industries, LSU AgCenter administrators say it is much more than that.
“This show is much more about recognizing champion young people than it is about naming champion animals,” said Bill Richardson, LSU vice president for agriculture. “Every youngster who participated in this show is a champion because of the dedication, skills and knowledge they’ve demonstrated by caring for their animals.”
The 2017 show was presented by Gerry Lane Enterprises and PotashCorp. With additional funding from the Meraux Foundation, said Vickie Hutchinson, director of development for AgCenter livestock programs.
Other top-level donors included First South Farm Credit, Sunshine Quality Solutions, Louisiana Cattlemen’s Association, Louisiana Land Bank and Mosaic, she said.
The Arlene and Joseph Meraux Charitable Foundation endowment supported awards for Supreme Champion animals in all six breeding species – beef cattle, dairy, poultry, sheep, goats and swine. The winners were:
Supreme Champion Beef Bull – Morgan Thompson, East Baton Rouge Parish 4-H.
Supreme Champion Beef Heifer – Emily Rodriguez, Caddo Parish 4-H.
Supreme Champion Dairy – Blake Major, Tangipahoa Parish 4-H.
Supreme Champion Goat Buck – Zoe Cazayoux, Lafayette Parish 4-H.
Supreme Champion Goat Doe – Chloe Ayo, Lafourche Parish 4-H.
Supreme Champion Sheep Ram – MacKenzie Castro, Calcasieu Parish 4-H.
Supreme Champion Sheep Ewe – Maci Schexnayder, Assumption Parish 4-H.
Supreme Champion Swine – Bailey LaBove, Cameron Parish 4-H.
Supreme Champion Poultry – Layne Battaglio, St. Martin Parish 4-H.
The livestock show demonstrates the result of years of hard work on the part of the 4‑H and FFA members, said Mark Tassin, associate vice president and program leader for 4-H.
“But we also see the support of parents, teachers, volunteer leaders and others who helped them along the way,” Tassin said.
Six exhibitors earned Premier Exhibitor awards, which place emphasis and recognition on exhibitors’ knowledge and skills in the 4-H and FFA livestock projects. Supported by an endowment from Gerry Lane Enterprises in Baton Rouge, the program is available to participants exhibiting beef, dairy, swine, sheep, poultry and goats. The program tests all facets of youths’ proficiency in their livestock projects through an interview, a resume, a test, a skill-a-thon and showing ability.
Angelle Delcambre, Cameron Parish 4-H, received the Price LeBlanc Champion Livestock Award, which is presented to one grand champion market animal each year from among five species – steers, swine, sheep, chickens and goats. The award is funded by an endowment from Price LeBlanc, a Baton Rouge automobile dealership.
Junior, intermediate and senior Champion Showmanship awards were presented to exhibitors in each of the eight animal categories – dairy cattle, beef cattle, swine, exhibition poultry, broiler poultry, sheep, breeding goats and market goats. Supported by an endowment from PotashCorp, awards were presented in the junior 9- to 11-year-old, intermediate 12- to 14-year-old and senior 15-year-olds and up divisions.
The livestock show also includes a quality assurance and ethics certification program that educates youth on proper and ethical use of animal heath products ensuring a high-quality, wholesome product.
Organizers say youth livestock projects provide a means for families to come together to participate in quality educational activities. Young people say participating in the program gives them opportunities to make new friends, see old friends and gain valuable experience. And everyone agrees it helps youngsters develop character and hone skills that will benefit them, their families and their communities throughout their lives.