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Our Opinion: Showing what it takes to be a winner

When asked how they spent their summer vacation, some area youth will have a ready answer.

They were busy learning about responsibility, commitment and the rewards of perseverance.

These youngsters — most of them members of 4-H groups or Future Farmers of America — were participants in livestock shows and auctions at the Jefferson City Jaycees Fair, which ended Saturday.

For many of them, the auction was a bittersweet event. Although sellers were rewarded for their labors, the event marked the parting with an animal they had groomed, fed and tended for years.

In addition to memories, however, these young people also acquired skills and character traits that will serve them well throughout their lives.

Here’s a sampling of what some said about the experience.

• Jayce Tschirgi, Russellville High School student and steer auction participant: “It (raising steers) teaches hard work and dedication. It helps you decide if you want to raise livestock or work in animal science. I have learned so much. It’s a great experience.”

• Shianne Walther, Helias Catholic High School student and ham auction participant: “It (the money earned at the auction) goes toward college. I kind of want to get into horses — but I’m not sure what, yet.”

• Clayton Thompson, Russellville High School student and FFA chapter president. “My goal is to show (hogs) as long as I can. And then, I’ll look for kids to pass it on to.”

• Wyatt Nelson, Jefferson City High School graduate and ham auction participant: “It helps build character and shows how entrepreneurship and all of that works. It teaches leadership and responsibility.”

FFA, 4-H and other youth organizations and programs teach young people about much more than agriculture and livestock.

They also instill timeless values, including persistence in the face of adversity and strength tempered by compassion.

Regardless of the ribbons or money collected, these young men and women are winners.

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