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LIVESTOCKL&ove 4-H: Lessons on Life, Alexis Cummings, 16, of Golden Gate Estates shares her experience in Collier County’s 4-H program. Make sure you cheer her and the rest of the 4-H family at this year’s fair. 4-H is something a lot of people haven’t heard of. I was one of those people until five years ago. My friends had these cool animals and when I asked why they had so many, they said “They’re for 4-H.” I went online to do some research. Animals and friends all at the same time sounded cool to me. That’s when I learned it’s about much more than that. It’s about the community, agriculture, helping others and so much more. ESTATES LOCAL������������������������������������������������ Not only do 4-H members in Collier County get to raise animals, they get to show them to the community at the county fair. I joined as soon as I could. My first year I was going to show a horse since that’s the only animal I had owned. Then one of the club members moved, leaving behind the baby hog they were going to show. My leader asked if I would be interested in showing him. I begged my mother and stepfather until they said yes. All expenses, from feed to vet bills, were recorded in my project book as required. This taught me how to budget and how to make a profit at the end of the year. These books, my vet, my “The 4-H community is all about giving and helping others as well as raising and showing animals”. fellow club members and 4-H leaders taught me a lot. Everyone stressed how important it was to walk your hog to get him used to you, and how you ask him to move. Nearly every day, Pigg and I walked back and forth from his pen to the trailer. My hog was learning fast and we had a good bond. In March, it was time for the Collier County fair. Every day I would sit in his pen and tell him how amazing he was and that he was the best hog I could have asked for. Pigg had taught me just as much as I taught him and I owed him every second of love I could give him. The night of the show, there was a large crowd, all 200 of the 4-H members and their animals, and the judge. Since the show goes by weight class, there would only be 10 kids in the ring with me. In the ring, Pigg, a 288-pound Hampshire Cross, strutted his stuff. 16


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