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Local students learn life skills through Louisiana 4-H program - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Local students learn life skills through Louisiana 4-H program

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16-year-old Rebekah Bryant competes in a livestock show at the State Fair of Louisiana in Shreveport. 16-year-old Rebekah Bryant competes in a livestock show at the State Fair of Louisiana in Shreveport.
SHREVEPORT, La. -

There are over 313,000,000 people living in the United States.

Of that population, less than 1% claim farming as an occupation, according to the U.S. Census.

But Louisiana 4-H is working to educate our young people about agriculture, and why they should care in today's society.

When other teens her age are hanging out at the mall, 16-year-old Rebekah Bryant is probably out taking care of Quincy, her bull.

"One day I went to the livestock show with [some friends] and they had an extra cow that they needed to show and they didn't have enough people."

Rebekah just happened to be in the right place at the right time, and it didn't take long before she was hooked.

That was four years ago.

"I like animals and it's just a lot of fun."

But as much fun as it may be now, raising cows as part of 4-H wasn't something Rebekah ever thought she'd be doing.

"You always saw how they ran and how big they were. You didn't think it was possible to just halter it up and parade it around an arena."

The C.E. Byrd High School student travels to Stonewall in Desoto Parish several times a week to care for, and practice working with, her livestock.

That involves grooming, feeding, and hours of training.

"When they're little, you think they're so cute, then you go out to work them and they don't want to work and you get slung and you start to get mad at them. But in the end, you just have to realize that it doesn't know anything. You have to teach it."

When 4-H students step into the arena to show their livestock, their focus is obvious.

The judge is looking for someone who is in control, both of themselves and of the animal.

The point is to display how well a student has raised and developed their animal, as well as their personal showmanship.

"Eventually, you calm down, you know what to do, and you'll go out there with confidence and start winning if you have that confidence."

But the 105-year-old Louisiana 4-H program includes much more than raising livestock.

It's a complete agricultural education experience.

"Really kids these days, and families, don't realize the importance of agriculture and how much they use agriculture every day," says Caddo Parish 4-H agent Katherine Pace.

Pace says one of their fastest growing programs is the shooting sports program.

"The disciplines we have are archery, rifle, shotgun, hunting, muzzle loader and all of it is about safety."

But above all, Louisiana 4-H strives to teach kids about responsibility, to both the environment and their community.

And that lesson isn't lost on Rebekah.

"You have to take care of these animals. You have to make sure they're getting the right feed. You have to look at them and kind of judge what you need to do with it."

Rebekah took first place with Qunicy in the Junior Hereford show at the fair this year.

She also placed second with her heifer, Betty, during that show and she won first place with her steer.

That first place award includes an educational trip to Louisville, Kentucky.

After graduation, she says she wants to go to med school and possibly become a child psychologist.

A large part of all 4-H projects is leadership in the community.

The program encourages all members to become involved in at least one of over 100 projects available.

Every project includes leadership development, citizenship development, and career preparation.

Members learn vital life skills like communication, decision-making, planning and organizing.

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