Kids Earn Championships at Nebraska State Fair


The Nebraska State Fair comes to a close with a parade of champions. For farm kids who've spent early mornings and late nights caring for animals, it's every bit as big as any other state championship.

Showered with hugs, Torri Dethlefs fights back tears. After 13 years showing animals, her final show brings the biggest award of all -- a grand champion, something no one in her family or school has accomplished.

"I'm so happy, it's my last year," she said. How's it feel? "Really good."

Others share that feeling, like Emmet Caldwell who earned a reserve championship with a Red Angus breeding heifer he raised from birth.

He said, "That's one of the best feelings I've ever felt, when you've raised an animal yourself and come up - might be somebody here with a $10,000 heifer and you beat them in class and there's no better feeling that."

Emmet and his sister started their own certified Angus herd, teaching them a lot about responsibility.

"Such as paying our bills and things like that," he said. "We've got loans from the bank, we know how the monetary system works pretty well anymore. Mom and dad made sure we learned the value of a dollar and we sure did."

University of Nebraska leaders say for farm kids a day like this is, is like the Olympics.

Dr. Chuck Hibbard, Dean of Extension said, "We put kids in the show ring and they have to compete - it's about winning and losing and learning how to win and learning to lose and learning to compete. That's what life is all about and that's what we teach kids in 4-H."

Torri Dethlefs experiences the high of going out a champion in her final attempt. She says her family has been there along the way, helping her become a champion in the arena and out.

"I say everyone should be in 4-H and FFA. I am the person I am today - skills and responsibilities people look for when you want a job, so it's definitely changed my life for good," she said.

Mark your calendar -- on Sunday Sept. 8, NTV will have a special Nebraska State Fair edition of NTV's Grow with highlights from NTV's fair coverage and we will hear from many 4-H and FFA youth, plus interviews with leaders in Nebraska agriculture.