State champions named at 88th annual LSU AgCenter Livestock Show in Gonzales

Johnny Morgan, LSU AgCenter

Competitors with 4-H and FFA livestock projects from across Louisiana came together to participate in the 88th annual LSU AgCenter Livestock Show held Feb. 11 to 18 at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales.

Dwayne Nunez, AgCenter livestock show manager, reported that 1,840 youths exhibited 2,031 breeding animals, 1,017 market animals, 223 pens of broilers and 692 exhibition birds. These 4-H and FFA youth spend countless hours preparing to showcase their prize animals as well as their livestock knowledge and skills through participation in parish, district and, ultimately, the state livestock show.

Toby Lepley, AgCenter associate vice president and 4-H program leader, said this annual event showcases the state’s livestock industry as well as the 4-H and FFA members’ showmanship skills.

“The LSU AgCenter is honored each year to sponsor the state livestock show for our 4-H and FFA members in Louisiana,” Lepley said. “For more than 85 years, the livestock show has allowed our youth to showcase Louisiana-raised livestock, but even more, an opportunity for youth to gain valuable life skills to help prepare them for successful futures.”

Tara Smith, interim director of the Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service, said that the state livestock show is one of the jewels in the crown of Louisiana 4-H.

“Livestock continues to be one of our signature 4-H projects in the state,” she said. “The state livestock show is the culmination of much hard work and discipline and an opportunity for our youth to showcase their projects and to be recognized for their successes.”

Nunez added, “Each year’s livestock shows feature some the best livestock and poultry in the country, but the true purpose of these livestock and poultry shows and activities is not to only showcase championship livestock. These shows, using livestock and poultry projects, are the tools used to develop championship youth.”

Lepley and Nunez added that a lot of hard work and countless hours are invested in each of the livestock projects displayed, and they said the AgCenter is truly grateful to the donors and supporters who value the youths’ time and dedication by sponsoring awards.

Winners of Market Animal awards pose for a group photo with sponsors of the awards. The winners are from left, Hayden Daigle, Ascension Parish; Katie Domingue, Vermilion Parish; Ellie Thames, Richland Parish; Eleanor Straney, Lafourche Parish; Emma Bourgeois, Calcasieu Parish; Blair Page, Livingston Parish; Kennedy Marceaux, Vermilion Parish; Mia Parks, Livingston Parish; Guy Hayes, Allen Parish; Dyland Blancahrd, Lafayette Parish; and Luke Domingue, Lafayette Parish.

Premier Exhibitors

Gerry Lane Enterprises of Baton Rouge, through an $80,000 endowment to the LSU Foundation, began the Premier Exhibitor Awards in 1999 to recognize youth who exhibit knowledge, skill and communication ability relating to their animal project. Applicants compete in a series of tests to determine their knowledge of the species relating to their project. Each year, 30 young winners receive scholastic premiums of $50 to $500 as well as a commemorative belt buckle and monogrammed jacket.

The late Gerry Lane, a generous supporter of the livestock program, wanted to recognize outstanding young people as well as recognize the AgCenter’s mission to develop leaders for tomorrow.

“This is the generation of people that will keep this country the great country that it is,” Lane said of the livestock exhibitors. “Many of them have become successful in their adult lives, and it started when they were young and learned the discipline of taking care of animals. We want to support these deserving young people. That’s our primary goal.”

Showmanship Champions

Nutrien, a community partner, sponsors awards for outstanding 4-H and FFA members winning Champion Showmanship Awards. The company, located in Geismar, supports the lessons of respect, responsibility, fairness, caring citizenship and sportsmanship taught in 4-H and FFA.

The initial $40,000 endowment to the LSU Foundation in 2017 established awards for senior champion showmen. Senior winners receive scholastic premiums of $250 or the amount determined by the vice president for agriculture in accordance with annual net earnings of the fund. Junior and intermediate winners receive scholastic premiums of $125.

Supreme Champion Breeding Animals

Another community partner, The Arlene and Joseph Meraux Charitable Foundation, through its endowment in the Louisiana 4-H Foundation, supports awards for Supreme Champion animals in all six breeding species: beef cattle, dairy, goats, swine, poultry and sheep.

Champion Market Animals

The exhibitors of top market animals in each of the seven species featured at the show are awarded championship premiums, recognizing their outstanding accomplishment in being the best of the best. These championship premiums are made possible by generous sponsors, including the Price LeBlanc Livestock Endowment, Sunshine Quality Solutions, First South Farm Credit, Louisiana Land Bank and Mosaic Fertilizer.