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Elk Grove Citizen

Nurturing Young Leaders Through 4-H, FFA and the Sacramento County Fair

Jun 06, 2024 01:44PM ● By Ornella Rossi
FFA and 4-h at the Fair [3 Images] Click Any Image To Expand
GALT, CA (MPG) - The Sacramento County Fair buzzed with excitement as youngsters proudly paraded their livestock before eager onlookers on May 26. Among them were participants from two venerable organizations dedicated to shaping the leaders of tomorrow: 4-H and Future Farmers of America (FFA). 
The Sacramento County Fair is all about mixing education with fun, a tradition the Sacramento County Fair Foundation (SCFF) is dedicated to preserve and enhance. The foundation’s mission is to educate the youth and adults in Sacramento County about the significance of hands-on agriculture, helping them become more informed citizens, and support agricultural literacy. 
“The Sacramento County Fair embodies a commitment to educating our community and its youth in agriculture, business, and technology,” states organizers on the fair’s website. 
The Junior Livestock Auction, a highlight of the fair, gives 4-H and FFA members the chance to showcase their animals and hard work. It is an opportunity for these young participants to learn about entrepreneurship and responsibility while earning recognition for their efforts. 
4-H is a nationwide organization focused on empowering youth aged 5 to 18 with practical skills and leadership opportunities. Through direct projects in areas such as agriculture, science and civic engagement, younger children and teens learn valuable lessons while having fun. The four H’s– Head, Heart, Hands, and Health – serve as guiding principles, shaping the character and values of its members. 
FFA, or Future Farmers of America, is all about preparing young students from seventh-grade until graduation, for success in agriculture and beyond. Members gain firsthand experience, develop leadership skills and explore career opportunities in fields such as farming, science and business. 
Colby Otto, 9 and an Arcohe Elementary School third-grader, achieved notable success in the Herald 4-H program. He earned the title of Reserve Champion in the Heavyweight Market Goat category and placed sixth in the Novice Showmanship. 
“I was nervous to show my wether but liked showing my doe, Fern in both showmanship and the breeding show,” said Colby Otto about his experience at the county fair. “Fern is going to become a mama and I'm excited to hopefully show a goat that I raised myself next year at the county fair.”
His siter, Paige Otto, 11 and an Arcohe Elementary fifth-grader, also showed exceptional achievements within the Herald 4-H program. She attained the prestigious titles of Supreme Champion in both Market Lamb and Ewe categories, along with Reserve Supreme Champion in the Ram category and recognition as the Champion 4-H Junior Showman. 
“I have wanted to show sheep for as long as I can remember. This is my second year with the Herald 4-H, and I have truly enjoyed learning more about raising and showing livestock,” said Paige. “I have dedicated a lot of time to attending livestock camps and receiving coaching from supportive mentors who help me achieve my goals. I want to keep improving as a showman and sheep breeder. One day, I hope to compete in major shows like those in Arizona, Louisville, or Denver.”
Their 12-year-old brother, Caleb Otto, also participated at the county fair with the Herald 4-H program. 
He secured the title of Reserve Champion in the Light Cross Market Hog category and earned the esteemed designation of Supreme Champion Boar. Caleb also showcased his skills by ranking 10th in the 4-H Junior showmanship. 
“I enjoy showing pigs with my friends at the county fair. I also enjoy showing pigs we've raised as a family, feeding and watching them grow since they were weaned,” he said.
Sadie Smith, another fair participant, shared her experience with the program and raising livestock.
“My favorite part of my project was giving Patches a bath,” said Sadie about the pig she raised for the county fair. “I have learned so many lessons, 4-H has helped me learn how to speak in public and learn the basics of farm business. It is a lot of work but I have enjoyed it very much.” 
Caedence Xiong, a sophomore in Sheldon High’s FFA program, raised a marked lamb for the Sacramento County Fair and recounts her involvement with the program, what she has learned and what she enjoys most.   
“I have loved animals ever since I was a child and would love to have my own farm full of livestock to help disabled people when I grow up,” Caedence said. “I decided to join FFA because I wanted to learn more about where my food came from and to raise animals. I have also learned so much already in FFA, how to propagate plants, the anatomy of animals and the chemistry of soil. I hope to continue to raise lambs for the rest of my time in high school and in the program.”
As another year of the Sacramento County Fair ends, the stories of participants highlight the profound impact of agricultural programs, showcasing not just their achievements but also their enduring passion and commitment to the future of farming and community stewardship.