The Florida State Fair will be held from February 6-17, and its Youth Steer Show on February 12 is one of the highlights of the youth agricultural events. The steer show gives pre-teens and teens the chance to showcase steers they have raised for the past six months.
The show is part of Florida State Fair’s Champion of Champions program, which allows youth 4-H and FFA exhibitors to raise and train livestock, while also completing agri-education tasks—all of which pays off in various ways, including financially.
Who is Eligible to Compete in the Youth Steer Program?
Exhibitors must turn 11 before the day of the calf sale (each August), and they must have not graduated or dropped-out of high school prior to the February show. They must be active members of 4-H, FFA, or Florida’s Vocational Agriculture program. The entry fee is $100, $85 of which is put toward the cost of the project animal.
How Does the Youth Steer Show Program Work?
Potential exhibitors in the youth steer show must apply in June. The first 85 eligible applicants are chosen, and they attend a day-long animal ethics course in August. At the end of the course, they select their project animal.
The project steers are all Florida-raised animals, submitted by local ranchers. Exhibitors draw numbers to determine the order in which they are allowed to select their project animals from the local stock. The steers have already been weighed and priced at slightly over market rate.
Exhibitors care for their steers for about six months. They learn to feed, groom, and break them. These steers will basically double in weight before the February show.
During these six months, exhibitors also complete other projects. They answer specific essay questions about animal care and breeding. Next, they create educational posters, illustrations, or demonstration videos on some aspect of animal care, such as castration or feeding. They also take written tests on various aspects of raising steers. Exhibitors earn points based on how well they accomplish these tasks. These points are added to a base price-per-pound that their project animal will bring, once the show is over and the animals are sold.
On the day of the show itself, the exhibitors show their animals. Judging is based on the condition and showing of the animal, as well as an ultrasound that helps judges determine the condition of the animal.
What are the Benefits to the Youth Steer Program?
In addition to learning animal science, there are real financial benefits to participating in the youth steer program. Youth nearly always earn a profit when their project animal is sold, and being an exhibitor makes a student eligible to apply for multiple scholarships. Champions receive cash prizes! It’s a huge honor and resume-booster to have participated in such a long-term project that requires dedication and a high level of responsibility, even if your steer is not the steer—the actual champion animal.