Dockery uses leadership opportunity to give back to storm victims
Lusk – Dax Dockery says when he was thinking about a junior leader project for his final year in 4-H, he realized that there were some 4-Hers in South Dakota who weren’t as lucky as he was and decided to reach out.
“My dad and I sat down and thought that a good project would be to give back to 4-H members who lost livestock during Winter Storm Atlas,” Dax says. “I figured I’d help out with a couple of heifers.”
Dax’s parents Matt and Tandy Dockery note that they quickly jumped on board to support their son.
“We didn’t send any money to relief efforts and thought that it would be better to help some kids who had lost cattle,” says Matt. “Dax thought this might be a good project.”
Setting it up
Dax began working with 4-H Extension Educators in South Dakota to begin the project.
“I wrote up a criteria of what I wanted the applicants to put in an essay to apply for a heifer,” he says. “I wanted them to tell me what happened, what they lost and what their occupational plans for the future were.”
He spread the word about the heifers by contacting the Extension Educators and received essays from several applicants.
“We chose a couple of girls who we felt deserved these two heifers,” Dax says.
The Dockery family donated one heifer, and Pat and JoAnn Wade donated a second animal.
“When I contacted the family who won, they were very excited,” he continues. “Then, I started working with the heifers.”
Dax notes that he didn’t want to take away part of the project by halter breaking the heifers, but he also didn’t want to give two young girls wild heifers, either.
“I started halter breaking the heifers just to make sure I wasn’t giving them a wild one,” he says. “When I start halter breaking them, I put the heifers in a small square pen and make sure they are comfortable with me. Then I put a halter on them and rub them down, so they are comfortable around humans.”
Matt notes that Dax enjoys the time he spent with the heifers and preparing the animals was a positive experience.
“It was a really good learning experience for Dax,” Matt comments. “He had to make a lot of phone calls and develop the different criteria he thought should be required.”
Laney and Morgan Mackaben were selected as the recipients of Dax’s two heifers.
When Dax and Monte Wade delivered the heifers to Belle Fourche, S.D., it was 25 degrees below zero, but the feeling was still rewarding.
“I get a pretty good feeling, especially when we saw the look on their faces and how happy they were,” Dax explains. “It really meant something to them that someone cared.”
“It sure makes a guy feel good,” he adds.
Matt and Tandy both note that Dax’s effort made them extremely proud as parents.
“I’m awful proud of him,” Matt says. “It was quite a collaborative effort with Pat and JoAnn Wade. After talking to them, they said they’d like to donate a heifer, and Dax was awful excited about the project.”
Tandy comments, “We are proud of him. He has such a big heart and it makes me so happy.”
She also notes that the response Dax has received has been incredibly positive, and the experience has been really great.
Dax is a 10-year Niobrara County 4-H member. He has raised a steer for the market beef project every year he was involved in 4-H.
“The past two years, I have raised the Champion Black Angus Steer,” he says. “I’ve also been in meat judging for nine years. Last year, I was able to attend the national contest in Kansas City, Mo.”
At the contest, the team placed fourth.
Dax is also a three-year livestock judge and has competed in shooting sports for four years.
“After I graduate high school this year, I plan on going to Sheridan for a diesel degree,” Dax comments. “I hope to get a job, and after I pay off my school, I’d love to come back to the ranch and work here.”
He adds, “I’ve always known that there is more to learn about leadership and helping others. I want to continue to improve on those skills.”