Thursday 21 July 2016

Summer Synergy and Provincial Sheep Show 2016

Off to Summer Synergy..

The kids and I are back from a week-long sheep and cattle show held in Old, Ab. This is the "BIG" show highlight for the kids, where they can compete in various categories; such as marketing, multi-judging, conformation of their animals, grooming/trimming/fitting and showmanship. This year Jess took her heifer, as well as some of her sheep breeding projects, and Roy his sheep breeding projects.

Around 200 youth from all over Canada come to Synergy where they compete for Scholarships provided by the Calgary Stampede International Youth Livestock Program.
Over $70 000 worth of scholarships are handed out every year to outstanding youth in Agriculture.

This  program/event is not just about the money, it is a great learning experience for the youth competing in all the shows.
It is highly competitive, and yet most of the youth love the experience, friendship and fun they have while participating in Summer Synergy.

The week is jam packed and quite exhausting.
Showing sheep is not for the meek, the time it takes to groom and prepare sheep is at least four times more time consuming than showing a heifer.
It is hard work and I must say "hats off to all the 4-H kids who show sheep" in fleece.

Trimming and carding.. some more trimming and carding..

Summer Synergy is composed of 5 components, all the kids must participate in all 5 categories in order to be considered for a scholarship. The points are added together and the top scores in each age category, go through to the interview process.
Based on the interviews the amounts of the scholarships are determined. These components are marketing,  (their) species specific conformation, species trimming/grooming/fitting, showmanship and multi-judging.
The dairy, beef and sheep kids compete for the same scholarships, and the overall aggregate scores is what counts for scholarships.

Here is a little rundown of what the kids need to do during this week.
 Before Summer Synergy gets underway, they have to complete their marketing project. The marketing project is different every year. The Seniors had to make a "My Story" video focusing on one (or all three) of these themes; quality food production, farm safe practices and rural & family lifestyle. The video must be 1-2 minutes long.

You can view Jess and Roy's videos here:

Both kids placed really well in their video, with Roy placing 3rd overall ( much to our surprise) and Jess placing in the top 5.

The next part of Summer Synergy is  the show portion. Summer Synergy works together with various breed clubs and 4-H to host the Provincial sheep, dairy and beef breeding stock shows.

The kids have entered their animals into the various classes. Jess did double duty having both a heifer and her sheep at the show this year.
 Jess participated with her Angus heifer in Commercial breeding heifer, conformation, showmanship and fitting.

Both kids did a ewe lamb, yearling ewe with lambs at foot and mature ewes with lambs at foot.
 Roy did a flock class, his flock was not quite complete as one lamb got ill just before the show and had to stay home.
Jess showing her 2016 ewe lamb in conformation class.
Roy with his Dorset flock.

The results from the conformation class was:
Jess placed reserve champion ewe lamb.
Roy placed 4th with his mature ewe and her lambs.

Next up was the sheep trimming.
This competition is perhaps the toughest for the sheep kids. They are given a wild ( not halter broke lamb) that needs to be hand trimmed to look as show ready as possible in 45 minutes time. This is a dry show so no products, water or washing. Just trimming and carding.
This year was extra tough as the lambs were soaking wet and extremely dirty. Very tough on the kids and on their equipment.
So, the kids needed to knuckle down, and just go at it, as best they could.

Here are some pictures of the sheep trimming competition:
Lambs lined up and the kids have 45 minutes to trim them to show ready state.

Jess; the first cut is the hardest

Roy just dived right in and started to clip 'the pattern" into his lamb.

Jess clipping away.

Roy is good with a pair of shears

and done... after 45 minutes

The end product!

As Jess also did the beef, she had her beef fitting competition. This was way simpler as they used their own (already clean) animals. The got 20 minutes to fit them for the show ring. The kids were judged on their ability to correctly fit their animals, use of products and techniques. Directly after fitting, they went into their class showmanship.

The results from the sheep trimming was:
Champion was Roy and reserve Champion was Jess.
Roy won this awesome and hard earned buckle.

Jess did well with her fitting on her heifer, I admit I do not know the placings for her beef fitting and beef showmanship.

The next component was showmanship.
The kids are judged on their ability to show their animals to the best of their abilities. The judge will generally watch the kids throughout the show to determine if they consistently show well, and the judge will watch and judge them during the showmanship class.

Beef Showmanship

The final component for the Summer Synergy was the multi-judging.
 For the judging, the kids had to judge 10 classes, 3 where reasons classes and 7 placings only.
They got to judge Cow/calf pairs, market steers, 1st lactation Holsteins, market lambs, katahdin ewe lambs and yearling katahdins, Jersey cows, steak  yearling heifers and spring heifers.
This is a grueling day,  over 2 hours spent judging 10 classes and making notes for the reasons, then 2 hours of  presenting reasons, all while being absolutely silent.

That wraps up all the activities and components for the scholarships, however, the week is filled with other "non scholarship" activities and competitions such as show team judging, educational components, species specific activities such beef marketing, dairy quiz and sheep learning days. There are also some fun social activities such as the dairy kids hosted an ice-cream social, a hypnotist show and an awards banquet.

 Show team judging, where the kids make teams and then are judged on how they judge and run a class. One member is the judge and the other the ring-person.

Judge Roy looking over his class, while ring person Shellain manages the ring.

The stalling area for the sheep.

Once the week is done and 6 pm Friday afternoon rolls around, the excitement for the scholarship announcements increases.
The scholarship winners are announced, those kids  then head down to Calgary Stampede to be interviewed by various executives. This interview process is the final step, and based on the interviews will determine the scholarship amounts awarded to each contestant.

Both Jess and Roy were scholarship winners this year. Roy placed 16th overall, from close to 100 Senior contestants and Jess was reserve Champion aggregate winner.  The scores are totaled over all the 5 categories.

Top 5 aggregate winners, with Jess being reserve Champion.

Roy won a $1000 scholarship and Jess had a fantastic interview and won the top amount for scholarships!

The top 4 scholarship winners.

All the scholarship winners were given an awesome buckle to commemorate this win.

Calgary Stampede gave out over $70 000 in scholarships to outstanding youth in Agriculture.
to celebrate this and honor these hardworking kids, they are paraded out onto the main grand stand at Stampede in front of a huge audience.
An awesome and proud moment for all these young people.
Here is a small clip of the celebration of the youth winners..

And, then it was time to head back home.
Tired but with a great feeling of accomplishment.

As parents we are proud of what they have accomplished, we know that some days they needed a boot up the rear end to get them going, and on other days it simply is no fun to have to work on their livestock when others go out and party.
These things don't just happen overnight. Their animals require daily care, hours of training and washing, the kids need to learn new skill sets and have to push their own boundaries.
Finally, a huge thank you to organizations such as Calgary Stampede that make these opportunities available for the youth, to Summer Synergy for putting on this premier event, to 4-H, to sponsors, partners and volunteers. Even in these hard economic times, you gave money, time and resources to allow these kids to compete, meet other youth, have fun and learn.
Thank you.

Jess giving a toast to the sponsors at the Evening of Excellence:

Another final shout out.. and for our small family, perhaps the most important shoutout of them all.
A big thank you goes to Eric who makes this possible. Not only does he have to run and manage his full time job away from the farm but also has to do all the farm work while the kids and I are away.
Without his support and hard work all this would not be possible.
This year was especially stressful as Eric had to deal with someone leaving a gate open at our cows, the cows wondered onto the highway and three where hit and killed. Luckily nobody was injured in this collision. In fact the person who hit the cows, reported to the police and then drove off and never stayed for the police to arrive and access the damage.
This certainly put a big damper onto a great week.
Thank you Eric, for all you do.

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