Though the current version of the Big Valley 4-H Beef Club has only been active for about two years, it’s gained a large amount of popularity in the village in that relatively short time.
“We started with eight members two years ago and now we have 20, so it’s grown a lot,” said club leader and co-founder Cheryl Bartley.
There was a club in Big Valley for years before it died out for lack of membership. Over ten years later, Bartley and her cousin, Doug Duncan, started it again, since there was considerable interest from young people within Big Valley.
“I work at the school, so for me it was a no-brainer just because so many kids here at the school wanted to do it,” Bartley said. “So much of my family and I had been through it and been part of it, so it just kind of made sense to help facilitate it…and so many of the parents had been members too – we had all been members together – so it was kind of easier that way.”
The Big Valley club skews younger, and its oldest member is 13 years old.
“Our oldest member (Emily Brown) was exceptional,” Bartley said. “She had been in 4-H for five years so she really had a handle on how to help the younger kids keep going and get them prepared and kind of keep them busy and focused on what they need to be doing. She was awesome at helping.”
When the club first formed two years ago, all but one of the members were completely new to 4-H. While Bartley said that the first few meetings were a bit long while the members learned the basics and what was expected of them, she said they caught on quickly.
To be in the club, each member picks either a steer or a heifer, and then they work with that animal, taking care of it, halter breaking it, and learning to lead it, and it culminates with Achievement Day and the Show and Sale in May. Bartley said that the members learn a lot about how to work with cattle, and how to improvise and do things on the fly.
“The kids have to do it; mom and dad can’t help them do anything, so the kids have to know by the time they go into the ring what they’re going to do and how they’re going to do it,” she said.
4-H also benefits the community.
Members are required to do community service, which for the Big Valley club includes cooking steaks at barbecues for the Elks and Agricultural Society or cleaning up around the village.
“Being a past member myself, 4-H taught me to work, it taught me that I needed to be responsible for the things I was doing… public speaking, that kind of stuff,” Bartley said. “It taught me resilience…that go-getting attitude.”
This is part of a series profiling 4-H beef clubs in the area.
The Big Valley winners from the Stettler District 4-H Beef Show and Sale are as follows:
Grand champion and Jr. grand champion- Kyler Kaiser
Reserve grand champion and Jr. reserve grand champion- Hannah Elines
Intermediate grand champion- Emily Brown
Intermediate reserve grand champion Jenny Munholland
Jr. showmanship- Nicole Zoller
2nd Jr. showmanship- Faith Shuckburgh
Jr. grooming- Faith Shuckburgh
2nd Jr. grooming- Owen Wilkie
Intermediate showmanship- Jessie Armstrong
2nd intermediate showmanship-Emily Brown
Intermediate grooming- Emily Brown
2nd Intermediate grooming- Jenny Munholland
Big Valley grand champion Heifer- Faith Shuckburgh
Big Valley reserve grand champion heifer- Robin Schipper
Big Valley grand champion cow-calf pair- Faith Shuckburgh
Big Valley reserve grand champion cow-calf pair – Hannah Elines
Stall Display Winners- Big Valley 4-H Beef Club
Overall grand champion cow-calf pair-Faith Shuckburgh
Stettler & District overall rate of gain- Dan Brown
Overall Jr. judging- Faith Shuckburgh
2nd Overall Jr. judging- Hannah Elines
Overall Jr. showmanship- Nicole Zoller