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Sale of Junior Champions rewards youth for projects
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Buyers set two records Thursday as they purchased at auction the 37 sale animals raised last year by 4-H and FFA youth in Mississippi.
The Dixie National Sale of Junior Champions raised $242,234 for the youth. Buyers broke the previous price per pound records by a dollar each for hogs and lambs, and matched the record for steers.
Buyers Deviney Construction, Yates Construction, Entergy, AT&T and APAC paid $56 per pound, or $15,512, for the 277-pound champion Duroc hog. Buyers Brookshire's and Regions Bank paid $61 a pound, or $9,333, for the 153-pound champion Hampshire lamb.
The grand champion steer went for $17 a pound. The 1,332-pound champion heavyweight European steer was sold to Gov. Haley and Marsha Barbour, Ergon and Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Mississippi for $22,644. The grand champion goat, a 100-pound champion heavyweight, went at auction for $4,500, or $45 a pound, to Nucor Steel, Brown Bottling Group and Rick's Pro-Truck.
Dean Jousan, 4-H livestock specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said the money raised will help the youth fulfill college and career goals.
“The Sale of Junior Champions is a way to reward the kids who have worked hard through the year with their market animal projects,” Jousan said. “The buyers are more than willing to support a good cause, and that's what they're doing when they support our youth.”
The Barbours were on hand to buy several market animals.
“The 4-H program and the FFA program instill in young people what we all want instilled in our young people,” Marsha Barbour said. “The children learn responsibility and respect for their animals and their peers. The kids here give up so much to get where they are.”
Lester Spell, commissioner of the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce, said buyers are willing to reward the youth for their dedication.
“There is excellent participation by businesses, both from Mississippi and out-of-state,” Spell said. “These kids spend a lot of time with their livestock, and they learn self-discipline.”
Eddie Guillot was a buyer at the Dixie National Sale of Junior Champions. He and his wife, Dr. Cris Glick, have purchased an animal at the auction each year for the last five.
“We receive notes from the kids to keep us abreast of their projects. It's a nice way to connect with these kids,” Guillot said.
Ana Claire Edwards, 9, participated in the sale for the first time this year. The Ebeneezer native was showing Lizzy, a Duroc who won grand champion hog.
“I love showing them because they are fun and funny,” Edwards said of her experience. “They wiggle their noses and try to bite your boots.”
The sale included eight steers, 13 hogs, 13 lambs and three goats. In addition, 34 scholarships totaling $41,700 were awarded to Mississippi youth.