Left: Guy Hayes, of Allen Parish, exhibits his market steer at the North American International Livestock Exposition in Louisville, Kentucky. Middle: Mary Claire Istre, of Calcasieu Parish, and Callie DeLee, of West Feliciana Parish, work on fitting Callie’s Maintainer heifer. Right: Ethan “Jose” Deshotel, of Evangeline Parish, exhibits his market lamb at the exposition.
Many livestock exhibitors dream of getting the opportunity to show on the iconic green shavings that cover the floor of Freedom Hall in Louisville, Kentucky. The LSU AgCenter can turn those dreams into reality.
Every year since 1974, Louisiana 4-H members have exhibited livestock at the North American International Livestock Exposition (NAILE) in Louisville, Kentucky. Over those 45 years, hundreds of Louisiana youth have been given the unique opportunity of attending the largest purebred livestock show in North America through the LSU AgCenter’s beef and sheep educational award trip.
Livestock exhibitors earn a spot on the beef and sheep educational award trip during the State Fair of Louisiana in Shreveport each fall. The educational trip is offered to 4-H members ages 12 to 18. Louisiana 4-H members who exhibit breeding beef heifers, market steers, breeding ewes and market lambs are all eligible to apply for the trip. As many as 24 breeding beef heifers and market steers, 15 market lambs and five breeding ewes are selected to represent Louisiana at the exposition.
“The purpose of the trip isn’t winning or losing,” said Jason Holmes, LSU AgCenter regional livestock specialist and trip coordinator. “It’s about the experience of participating in a prestigious livestock show with fellow exhibitors from Louisiana. It’s also about building a network of acquaintances that will benefit them for a lifetime.”
One highlight of the trip each year is the number of Brahman and Brahman-influenced cattle that are shown by Louisiana 4-H exhibitors. Brahman cattle are known for their heat tolerance and parasite resistance, which make them well-suited for the climate in the South. While this breed is popular in Louisiana and surrounding states, many attendees of the exposition are unfamiliar with them. Our 4-H’ers always take this opportunity to educate fellow exhibitors on the importance of the Brahman breed and its role in the South.
Each year, two Louisiana 4-H members are offered the opportunity to participate in an internship program through the North American International Livestock Exposition along with 4-H members from Kentucky and Indiana. This opportunity is awarded to winners of the beef premier exhibitor contest held during the LSU AgCenter State Livestock Show each February. Interns work with show management and gain a wealth of knowledge related to putting on an event of this caliber. In exchange, Louisiana 4-H offers an opportunity for two Kentucky 4-H members to come and assist with the LSU AgCenter Livestock Show each year.
“Being a NAILE intern was truly an unforgettable experience. Getting to work behind the scenes of this large-scale show was extremely eye opening for someone from Louisiana who doesn’t get to see shows at this level very often,” said Madison Plaisance, LSU College of Agriculture freshman and former Louisiana 4-H executive board member, who attended the trip for four years as an exhibitor and one year as an intern. “My favorite part was seeing how every breed ran their own show and getting to be a part of it. From weighing, checking in and ear tagging cattle, to being in the ring for the selection of the overall grand champion steer, I loved every second of it!”