By Michele F. Mihaljevich
CHESTERFIELD, Mo. – In light of COVID-19’s impact on many state and county fairs, the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) is offering 4-H and FFA members the opportunity to showcase their animals through a virtual livestock contest.
To enter the organization’s Farm to Virtual Fair contest, 4-H and FFA students are asked to post a photo or video of their project animal on the social media site Instagram. The submission must include a brief explanation of why the students use corn in their animal feed ration. Entrants must follow NCGA (@corngrowers) on Instagram, tag NCGA in the post and use the hashtag #MyCornFedBarn.
“Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, so many fairs and livestock shows were postponed or canceled this year,” said Michael Granché, NCGA market development manager. “I grew up showing livestock and I know a lot of work goes into showing. We wanted to honor that, to honor livestock.”
Farm to Virtual Fair is not a livestock show, he noted. “We’re not livestock judges. There’s not going to be a breed bias or species bias.”
Granché said he hopes participants and others scrolling through the Instagram feed of the entries will learn about corn usage in animal feed. “Are they feeding corn because their animals need more protein in the diet or do they need them to have more energy? It’s one thing for us, as employees of NCGA, to say corn is great. This gives the next generation of farmers an opportunity to grab the mic. Also, this is a lesson in evolving. Knowing how to adapt is critical for everyone, especially in agriculture.”
Entries will be judged by a three-person panel on four criteria, each worth 25 percent: photographic quality, visual appeal, appropriateness and social media engagement. 4-H and FFA students ages 13-18 are eligible. The first place winner will receive $300; second place, $200; and third, $100. The contest opened June 15 and runs through Nov. 2. One entry per person is requested.
“We’re hoping for a lot of participation,” Granché stated. “We don’t want to limit creativity. The photos or videos could show the entrant in the barn with an animal. It could be them with their animal in a show ring if travel restrictions didn’t limit participation in a fair. One thing that excites me the most is looking forward to seeing the creativity.”
NCGA wanted to recognize the hard work that goes into caring for and showing livestock, said Dan Wesely, a Nebraska farmer and the organization’s market development action team chair. “With so many unknowns this year, we wanted to give students participating in their local, county or state 4-H and FFA livestock shows something to look forward to.”
For more information and contest rules, visit www.ncga.com/get-involved/farm-to-fair.