By Amanda Forquer, 4-H Educator
Eight teens from Knox, Morrow, and Richland Counties traveled to Denver January 8 to 12, 2020. They explored 12 businesses while on a career exploration trip that was coordinated by OSU Extension — Morrow County.
This trip was a chance to take youth out of their comfort zone to experience a new city, people, ideas, and open their eyes to career opportunities they may not have thought of before. Many of the places visited were similar to businesses in Ohio, but run a bit differently in Colorado or on a much larger scale. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association was one of the youth’s favorite stops.
“More goes into running the NCBA than you think. They monitor the media constantly, try recipes in the culinary kitchen, advocate for the farmers and ranchers, and so much more. The best part was they talked to us like people who were going to achieve something someday,” said Taylor Rush, who went on the trip.
The group toured Cactus Hill Ranch, which currently houses 50,000 lambs, but has the capacity to house 150,000. Will Nelson, one of the owners, educated the youth about feeding and watering so many lambs, manure management, making a profit, and more. They also had the opportunity to tour Superior Foods, Inc. where many of Cactus Hill’s lambs are processed. This enabled the youth to see where the lambs were fed and then see the finished product processed into retail cuts and packaged.
Visiting Five Rivers Cattle allowed the 4-Hers to experience the management of a feed yard having 50,000 head of cattle.
“They fed efficiently, and they figured out how to feed on such a large scale and still make money,” said Colton Boyer, who was on the trip.
Some of the other locations they visited were Colorado State University, Great Range Bison, Sombrero Horse Stables, National Western Stock Show, Where Food Comes From, Celestial Seasonings, and others.
The youth gained insight into a vast array of career paths. Some of them had their eyes opened to new interests and others increased their knowledge of what they were already planning to pursue.
Four of the youth — Colton Boyer, Ellie Kidwell, Cassidy Small, and Ethan Staley — also participated in the National Western Round-up livestock judging contest. Thanks to the sponsors of the trip — Ohio 4-H Youth Development, Knox County Cattlemen’s, and the Mildred and Harold Hart Endowment.