As of 2019, Swain County 4-H Livestock Club was in its second year. With 15 members, the Tangled Feet Stompers also has new youth members as well. With 4-H ages ranging from 5 to 19, there is constant need for clubs and groups to recruit new members or they will eventually dwindle and cease to exist.

With a growing number of youth being dependent on drugs and alcohol, there is dire need to provide constructive opportunities for youth to grow and gain skills and networking opportunities that will allow them to become productive members of society.

Family and Consumer Sciences Agent Dee Decker and Livestock Agent Kendra Fortner, in collaboration with these clubs and volunteer leaders, were able to assist and guide youth in assembling a parade float portraying a “Barnyard Christmas,” complete with live sheep, chickens, a farm dog and cloggers for the Bryson City Christmas Parade where they were able to promote 4-H youth opportunities in Swain County.

There were approximately 30 youth and parents involved and a large number of individuals present at the Christmas Parade.

Stemming from the work that was poured into the parade float, the 4-H Livestock Club and The Tangled Feet Stompers were chosen to receive Best Overall Float in Bryson City.

The money associated with winning the parade will be used to help fund club activities/outreach. This was a great opportunity for these groups to display all of their hard work and accomplishments, and advertise for new membership. They are already planning for 2020.

There are youth livestock groups in both Jackson and Swain County if you or your child would like to be involved. 

Typically, these groups meet once each month and participate in a variety of activities including but not limited to raising and/or showing livestock at the local county fairs in the fall each year, showmanship clinics to help prepare them for show, and visits to a variety of local farming operations.

While this article only skims the surface of possibilities for participating in 4-H Livestock, or any 4-H group, it truly is an excellent way for youth to “learn by doing” about responsibility, record keeping, public speaking and just plain old hard work.

If you would like to discuss more opportunities for your child to be involved in youth livestock opportunities, contact me at the Jackson County Extension Center at 586-4009, or the Swain County Extension Center at 488-3848.

Kendra Fortner is the livestock agent for Jackson and Swain County Cooperative Extension.