The University of Nevada, Reno Extension office in White Pine County hosted the statewide Youth Livestock Conference and Workshop earlier this month, to help prepare youth for fair and ranch events, and careers in the livestock industry.
“My kids were able to learn useful strategies to help them take care of their animals,” said Gretchen Baker from White Pine County, whose two children, Matthew and Emma, attended the conference. “The hands-on activities really engaged them and helped them learn practical skills that they can use in future competitions.”
The event, held Feb. 15, was open to youth in the Extension 4-H Youth Development Program, the National FFA Organization, or to any other interested parties. The conference offered opportunities for the youth to learn about a variety of topics, such as livestock nutrition and feeding, meat quality and carcass grading, animal handling and showmanship and Youth for the Quality Care of Animals (YQCA) training. Presenting on these topics were speakers from the University’s College of Agriculture, Biotechnology & Natural Resources, including Amilton de Mello and Mozart Fonseca, assistant professors in the Department of Agriculture, Veterinary & Rangeland Sciences. Juan Carlos Cervantes, the Extension educator in White Pine County, presented the YQCA training.
Fonseca, who is also part of the College’s Experiment Station unit, provided a presentation on dietary management and nutrition for livestock, and touched on the topic of genetics, which engaged both the youth and their parents and provided them with real-world examples of what they can expect in the future in the livestock industry. Additionally, de Mello, also with the College’s Extension and Experiment Station units, spoke about meat quality and carcass grading, and helped the youth understand what consumers look for when choosing their meat. With the help of Haden Davis, manager of the meat science lab at Utah State University, the youth were also able to participate in hands-on activities, including learning about field-specific tools and handling cows, lambs and pigs.
“We’re hoping to see improvement in competitions for the kids that attended this event,” said Extension’s Alexandra Santaella, who organized the event. “They were given the chance to work and talk with experts in the field that provided them valuable information they wouldn’t get anywhere else.”
The event was open to any interested youth and had over 78 participants, including parents. Attendees came from White Pine and Eureka Counties, as well as from other surrounding counties. Some participants even came from Utah.
Santaella plans to expand this event for next year by also having workshops on some small animal varieties and by offering specific activities tailored to specific age groups.