Long-standing initiative teaches hard work, life skills

Published 10:25 pm Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Don’t live on a farm? 4-H students can lease animals


On Tuesday morning, Freeborn County 4-H’ers Mariah Posthumus and Simon Jacobusse were in the barn near their show cattle at the Freeborn County Fair.

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Their participation might not have been possible without the 4-H leasing program, a long-standing initiative that allows 4-H’ers who just completed third grade to graduating participants to lease animals from a mentor.

“It gives them the ability to work with a family that has livestock, and they don’t have the initial expense of necessarily owning their own animal,” said 4-H Program Coordinator Amy Wadding.

Leasing costs vary on animals and genetics. Rabbits can typically be leased from $20 to $100. Goats are normally at least $150, and cattle can cost thousands of dollars.

Posthumus, 18, leased an approximately 1-year-old breeding heifer for the fair from local farm County Road Cattle. She lives in the country but did not have a place to house animals.

“County Road Cattle offered me an opportunity, so I took it,” she said.

“It’s a great program to do and a project to do. You learn a lot through it. You get a lot of life skills along the way.”

Posthumus, who is in her fifth year of showing, said she enjoys all aspects of showing cattle.

“It’s just a lot of fun,” she said. “You get to show off all of your hard work that you’ve done and put in. It’s a good experience overall.” 

4-H’ers Simon Jacobusse and Mariah Posthumus are showing livestock this year at the Freeborn County Fair thanks to a 4-H leasing program. – Sam Wilmes/Albert Lea Tribune

At least four 4-H’ers are leasing rabbits, and at least three were showing beef cattle. Four people leased goats for the fair.

“Because of that, we are able to have every child have the ability to experience, because they can lease a breeding animal,” Wadding said. “So everybody can experience 4-H somehow, someway.”

Wadding noted that leased animals are for breeding, not for selling.

“It’s a very good program,” she said. “We have a lot of kids that take advantage of it. We have a lot of families that have gone through the 4-H program, and so they have these animals and they’re very good, used to people, able to come to the fair, be in the barn situation.

“And so they’re a good learning animal to give people a taste of the project.”

Wadding said participants sometimes buy livestock after participating in the program. She spoke highly of the dedication families who lend animals show to 4-H.

“It’s pretty amazing, because people that have animals here — it’s not just a week-long commitment — it’s a year-long commitment,” she said.

“They (participants) are able to get a taste of the project to see if they like it before they become a regular 4-H’er and have the investment on their own.” 

Wadding encouraged interested participants to speak with the Freeborn County Extension Office so they can get in touch with interested farmers.

Jacobusse, 15, is in his first year of showing a purebred Simmental and an angus, both lent to him by County Road Cattle.

“It’s very generous of them, because they’re putting in a lot of work for me when they’re not getting a lot,” he said.

Jacobusse called showing cattle “fun, because you get to hang out with all your friends and get the experience of showing.”

Garrett Stadheim of County Road Cattle said the farm leased 11 cattle to six 4-H’ers for the fair. He mentored younger people when he was in 4-H. He said his favorite part of the fair is seeing participants show well and their ensuing joy.

“It’s fun,” he said. “It’s fun to see when they get in the show ring — that’s when their work really pays off.”

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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