The McDowell Agricultural Youth Foundation is an volunteer organization which serves the youth of McDowell County. The objectives of the foundation are to provide guidance and funding to maintain and expand the youth livestock and agricultural awareness education programs. It’s programs currently include but are not limited to sponsorship and support of the McDowell County Junior Livestock Show, the McDowell County Junior Horse Show, the McDowell Agricultural Awareness Field Day, livestock chain projects, steer and lamb market projects, livestock project sponsorships, livestock and dairy judging programs and the college scholarship program. The organization also provides assistance to the McDowell Agricultural Center. An additional objective of the organization is to develop and fund new programs to serve the county livestock youth community as the need becomes necessary.
The organization receives it’s funding from two sources, the McDowell County United Way and from the sale of advertisements in the annual McDowell County Junior Livestock Show Program. These proceeds go to sponsor the previously mentioned county youth activities which include but are not limited to the following:
McDowell County Junior Livestock Show
The Youth Foundation provides the guidance, organization, and financial support to hold the county livestock show which was begun in 1946. A great many volunteer hours are devoted to providing the youth of our county the opportunity to exhibit their livestock of all types. McDowell County has no Agricultural County Fair therefore this show affords the only opportunity for our children to exhibit their poultry, rabbits, goats, dairy calves, beef calves, sheep, and swine in McDowell County. Funding helps provide ribbons, trophies and premiums for the show.
McDowell County Junior Horse Show
The Youth Foundation provides the guidance, organization, and financial support to hold the McDowell County Junior Horse Show. Funding for this show also provides the ribbons, trophies and premiums for our county youth.
McDowell County Youth Livestock Chains and Market Projects
The Youth Foundation provides the guidance, supervision, and financial support to provide the youth of our county livestock to carry out traditional livestock projects. Through participating in the various livestock projects offered in this program, county youth learn commitment, responsibility, recordkeeping skills and other life skills needed to be successful raising livestock and for life in general. Projects include the Dairy Heifer Calf Chain, Beef Heifer Calf Chain, Ewe Lamb Chain, Sheep Mini Flock, Market Lamb Project, Market Hog Project and Feeder Calf Project. The project animals are raised, shown, and bred by youth in the county. These animals are not only exhibited at our county livestock show but at the Western District Jr.Beef and Sheep Show and the N.C. Jr. Livestock Shows at the State Fair in Raleigh. Many of these original animals have gone on to be the foundation stock of several of the top livestock producers in the county. Since 1946, over 353 livestock projects have been carried out through this program.
McDowell Agricultural Barn Sponsorship
The foundation provides volunteer time to assist with maintenance and upkeep of the McDowell Agricultural Center. The center provides a place for county agricultural education activities such as the Agricultural Awareness Field Day held for all the 4th graders, Conservation Field Day held for all the 6th graders and Safety Field Day held for all the 8th graders in the county. The center also provides a location for youth to hold other types of agricultural events such as livestock shows, judging events, workshops, field days and club meetings. The facility is also used by other county agricultural groups such as the Cattlemen’s Assn. and the Cooperative Extension Service to hold all types of educational programs to benefit the Agricultural Industry in McDowell County. Over 2350 individuals benefit from the utilization of the facility annually. The facility receives no governmental funding and relies on this funding and volunteer labor to maintain the facility for county usage.
Livestock Project Sponsorships
The foundation provides sponsorships to county youth who show their livestock projects out-of-county to help defray the large expenses involved. These sponsorships are provided for youth who complete and turn in project record books detailing the financial aspects, project experiences and other learning experiences received from the project. These sponsorships are available to youth who are on contract with a foundation livestock project and those who have purchased and raised their own project animals.
McDowell Agricultural Youth Foundation Dottie Brackett Memorial College Scholarship
The foundation makes available two $500.00 college scholarship annually to any boy or girl who is a high school senior with a college acceptance and who has actively participated in a youth foundation program. Preference is given to applicants who are majoring in some field of Agriculture. The selection of the recipient is based on 50% program participation and 50% scholastic achievement.
Livestock and Dairy Judging Team Sponsorship
The foundation assists the County 4-H Livestock Judging Team and County 4-H Dairy Judging Team with travel and expenses associated District, State, and National Competitions. The judging program teaches youth to select and place classes of 4 animals in the dairy, beef, sheep, and swine species. In addition to learning how to place the animals based on their quality, team members individually go before the contest officials and are required to give a set of oral reasons utilizing a set format and specific terminology as to why they placed the class as they did. The county program has had a very successful record having had 4 state winning teams , 8 state winning individuals and 6 individuals who have gone on to National competition.
Agricultural Awareness Field Day
A two day event put on for all the 4th grades in McDowell County. The purpose of the field day is to help make students aware of the importance agriculture plays in their everyday lives through a positive hands-on experience. Displays are set up at the Agricultural Center dealing with a wide variety of agricultural commodities produced in North Carolina and in McDowell County. Students are rotated through 9 individual 15 minute educational presentations dealing with various aspects of agriculture like beef production, sheep production, crop production, horticultural production, etc. Approximately 600 students participated in the event this year. After the activity, students participate in an essay contest on “Why agriculture is Important to me” The winners from each school are awarded a saving bond.
The above mentioned activities are but a few made possible by the McDowell Agricultural Youth Foundation. The members of the foundation thank the people and businesses of McDowell County for their generous financial donations to the McDowell County United Way and to the volunteers of United Way for making it possible for us to provide these opportunities to the youth of our county.
Craig Lawing – President
Lawrence Moore – Vice President
Dianne Frisbee – Treasurer
Dustin Laws – Secretary
Chad Ray – 4-H Extension Advisor
Greg Anderson – Extension Advisor