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Livestock auction helps support youth scholarships

Aug. 22, 2013 | 0 comments

Jan Shepel

Associate Editor

WEST ALLIS

When buyers pull out their checkbooks and pay big bucks for the top steers, hogs and sheep at Wisconsin State Fair, they are benefiting several youth programs as well as recognizing those young people who hold the champions in the competition.

Some of the money from that big sale each year at State Fair goes to support the Wisconsin Livestock Breeders Association Show Camp. Some of the funding helps support $10,000 in scholarships that are awarded each year.

The Blue Ribbon Sale of Champions Foundation sponsors the scholarships annually to recognize the achievements of Wisconsin State Fair Junior Livestock exhibitors and help them further their educational expenses.

Since it began in 1998 through 2012, the program awarded $125,000 in scholarships to deserving youth, enabling them to continue their education. At last week’s event, $10,000 in scholarships were awarded, bringing the total to $135,000.

Organizers said they hoped to be able to raise the annual scholarship allocation to $15,000 in coming years.

When those top animals are sold at the auction, the higher the price goes, the larger is the percentage that is taken from that sale to benefit the foundation.

When exhibitors sell their animal for $20,000, a higher percentage of the total goes to the foundation than from animals that sell for lesser amounts.

Mary Beth Carr, who formerly worked with Wisconsin State Fair Park Foundation and now serves as a volunteer coordinator for the Livestock Auction, noted that the subtitle for last week’s event was "Celebrating Wisconsin Youth for 45 Years" – that’s how long there has been a big livestock auction at the fair.

Nearly all the money in the scholarship program comes from the percentage taken at the auction, she explained, although there is a new push to solicit donations from "friends" who want to donate directly to the foundation.

The 2013 Governor’s Blue Ribbon Livestock Auction Scholarships this year included four $1,000 scholarships, four $750 scholarships and five $500 scholarships.

Gov. Scott Walker presented the scholarship recipients with a certificate of recognition during the Governor’s Auction at the Wisconsin State Fair.

Winning $1,000 scholarships at this year’s State Fair were Kalli Jo Kastenson of Union Grove; Emily Petzel of Centuria; Lydia Russel of Brooklyn; and Cole Tidemann of Rosendale.

The $750 scholarship winners are Briana Katzenberger, Monroe; Courtney Lobdell, Darlington; Travis Senn, Campbellsport and Mikalya Wehrle, New London.

The $500 awards went to Suzanne Henning, Janesville; Maisie Langholff, Wisconsin Rapids; Morgan Pittz, Mineral Point; Sheila Tesarik, Whitelaw and Kurt Weisensel, Edgerton.

The Blue Ribbon Sale of Champions Foundation manages the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Livestock Auction to provide a platform for enhancing and strengthening the agriculture community of Wisconsin, and to foster better understanding of the agriculture industry throughout our society.

The scholarship committee judged applicants on participation at State Fair, leadership skills, a personal interview, scholastic achievement and career plans as well as their potential as future contributors to the livestock industry.

Carr said the other project supported by the funds from the auction is a show camp, held each summer at Wisconsin State Fair Park. It gives younger exhibitors a chance to experience what the park is like and what it’s like to stay in the dorm there.

"It teaches these young kids the proper way to show, management of their animals and fitting of show animals," she said. "We have about 100 kids per year."

This show camp is supported by the foundation but is run by the Wisconsin Livestock Breeders Association, a group whose goal is to support youth who show livestock.

"Those kids that come to show camp may eventually end up competing at State Fair and it’s a nice way for them to learn what it’s all about. It’s kind of a nice circle. It’s so nice to see the way it works out. It’s so important to keep young adults involved in agriculture," said Carr.

So many of these young people are solid citizens that "are a pleasure to know" and the foundation that supports these activities is a great way for individuals and corporations to support a cause, she added.

The good of the livestock auction, says Carr, doesn’t end that night – it keeps on giving throughout the entire year. "It keeps the cycle going."

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