Walt Disney once said, “Our greatest natural resource is the minds of our children.”
Few would argue this is especially true in the ag community. Maintaining interest in agriculture among the youth ensures the longevity of our industry. Agriculture enthusiasts in Central Florida have two upcoming opportunities to support the agri-youth of our area.
The first of these is the Polk County Youth Fair, running from January 25-31. Students who are at least 8 years old, still enrolled full-time in school (12th grade or younger), and who are a member of 4-H, FFA, or FCCLA may compete in a variety of events. These range from raising and auctioning market steers or goats, to growing containerized blueberry plants, to whip popping and a chili cook-off. Participants have strict rules of conduct, a formal dress code, and in some cases are even penalized for not following proper etiquette, such as a participant selling a show animal being fined up to fifty percent of their proceeds for not writing a thank-you letter to the buyer.
Just a week later, the Florida State Fair kicks off. Participants must be attending a Florida school, in grades 4-12. The Florida State Fair boasts a greater focus on showing animals, with a larger variety of show categories, such as three varieties of goat (Boer, Pygmy, and Dairy) as well as llamas and sheep. The students who wish to compete must also attend a Fair Ethics workshop once every three years to be able to attend.
Both events are still accepting volunteers to help make a difference in the lives of these young people. To volunteer for the Polk County Youth Fair, visit pcyf.net/i-want-to-volunteer. Those interested in volunteering for the Florida State Fair may go to floridastatefair.com/volunteer and click “Sign Up.”
BIO: Baxter Troutman is the founder and chief executive officer of Labor Solutions, a staffing company with offices in Bartow, Winter Haven, Lake Wales, Arcadia, and Plant City. You also can visit his Dark Hammock Legacy Ranch online at www.DH-LR.com. A cattle rancher and citrus grower who served in the Florida House of Representatives, Troutman understands the challenges and concerns of today’s farmer.