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Working Together: 4-H Program Teaches Steer Handling

  • Megan Taylor, 10, of East Randolph, Vt., encourages her Holstein steers Salt and Pepper to back a cart into a determined space during a 4-H working steer qualifying event at the Bradford Fair in Bradford, Vt., on July 16, 2017. It was Taylor's first time showing her one-year-old steers at a fair and she was competing for the experience. Others were gathering points in hopes of competing at the Eastern States Exposition in Springfield, Mass., on Sept. 22-25. "The Big E" is the largest agricultural event on the Eastern seaboard. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Krystin Skoda, 17, of Randolph, Vt., applies hoof polish to Mike, her eight-month-old Holstein steer, while preparing for the working steer 4-H show at the Bradford Fair in Bradford, Vt., on July 16, 2017. The show was the first of three qualifying events to determine who would compete at the Eastern States Exposition in Springfield, Mass., on Sept. 22-25. "The Big E" is the largest agricultural event on the Eastern seaboard. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • From left, Steve and Terri Chamberlin, of Pomfret, Vt., and Deb Skoda, of Randolph, Vt., prepare paperwork for the working steer 4-H show at the Bradford Fair in Bradford, Vt., on July 16, 2017. The show was the first of three qualifying events to determine who would compete at the Eastern States Exposition in Springfield, Mass., on Sept. 22-25. Terri Chamberlin and her father have been running the Green Mountain Teamsters working steer 4-H club since 1990. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Caleb Morvan, 16, of Northfield, Vt., is tested on the knowledge of his working steers Rock and Stone by judge Dan Fantoni, of Fairfax, Vt., during the fitting and showing portion of the working steer 4-H show at the Bradford Fair in Bradford, Vt., on July 16, 2017. The show was the first of three qualifying events to determine who would compete at the Eastern States Exposition in Springfield, Mass., on Sept. 22-25. Fantoni competed at "The Big E" three times as a teenage teamster. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • As judge Dan Fantoni, of Fairfax, Vt., watches, Krystin Skoda, of Randolph, Vt., encourages her young Holstein steer team of John and Mike to pull the stone boat during the working steer 4-H show at the Bradford Fair in Bradford, Vt., on July 16, 2017. The show was the first of three qualifying events to determine who would compete at the Eastern States Exposition in Springfield, Mass., on Sept. 22-25. Skoda has been competing for four years. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Joey Ferris, 11, of Braintree, Vt., is tested on his knowledge of working steers by judge Dan Fantoni, of Fairfax, Vt., during the Junior Division fitting and showing portion of the working steer 4-H show at the Bradford Fair in Bradford, Vt., on July 16, 2017. The show was the first of three qualifying events to determine who would compete at the Eastern States Exposition in Springfield, Mass., on Sept. 22-25. Ferris has been involved with working steers for three years. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Analiese Morvan, 18, of Northfield, Vt., takes shelter from the sun in the shadow cast by her Dutch Belt steer team of Jim and Joe while waiting for results from the stone boat obstacle course at the working steer 4-H show at the Bradford Fair in Bradford, Vt., on July 16, 2017. The show was the first of three qualifying events to determine who would compete at the Eastern States Exposition in Springfield, Mass., on Sept. 22-25. Morvan competed at "The Big E" last year as Vermont's sole teamster. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



STORY BY LIZ SAUCHELLI
Friday, July 28, 2017

Bradford, Vt. — The children and teenagers who participate in the 4-H Club working steers program are drawn to the activity for a number of reasons, but one thing seems to unite them.

“They definitely have a farm interest,” said Terri Chamberlin, of Pomfret, who oversees The Green Mountain Teamsters. “These animals have been used (on farms) for years.” For others, it’s even deeper than that. “It can be a family history connection as well,” she said.

The first competition of the year was held last weekend at the Bradford Fair. Some participants hope to attend The Big E, in Springfield, Mass. “The Eastern States (Exposition) is like the Super Bowl of the working steer program for the kids,” Chamberlin said.

The working steers event is broken down into three sections that are graded by a judge: fitting and showing, cart/obstacle driving and drag/pulling. “It’s a hard project to have,” said Wendy Sorrell, who is the 4-H Vermont livestock educator. “It’s a pretty intense program in that you’re doing it year to year.” It’s also a long-term commitment. “With working steer, you’re usually starting with calves that are pretty young and then they’re working with them to learn to work together,” Sorrell said.

Beyond farming and agriculture skills, 4-H programs instill life skills, such as responsibility. “Like most 4-H members, you’re going to find that they are very aware of what needs to be done in their project, but they’re more community active,” Sorrell said. “Studies have shown that when they’re older, they’re more likely to give back or they’re more likely to be active in their community.”

Geoff Hansen can be reached at ghansen@vnews.com or 603-727-3247. Liz Sauchelli can be reached at esauchelli@vnews.com or 603-727-3221.