4-Hers lend a hand after Atlas
After hearing about the devastation, 4-H members in Goshen County wanted to give something back to the victims of the Atlas storm and be part of the relief efforts.
They especially wanted to help out fellow 4-H members who had lost their animals, says their 4-H Leader Melanie Herring of Horseshoe Acres 4-H Club, noting that the youth wanted to provide their fellow 4-Hers with livestock to replace lost projects.
“We discussed buying steers to donate to South Dakota 4-Hers. Then the kids started discussing it more, and they thought they should donate heifers,” Herring explains. “Breeding heifers can be bred to actually start a herd, but steers are just sold and then gone.”
The Horseshoe Acres 4-Hers went to the Torrington Livestock Market sale to attempt to achieve their goals. Several youth stood in front of the auction’s buyers and explained what they were raising money for.
“Club members Marlisa and Shawn Hall donated the first heifer. Then we had a couple of offers with decreased price for the other two heifers. One was from Justin and Julie Gentle and the other was from Bill and Dana Haas,” says Herring.
Through their efforts, 4-Hers were able to obtain a heifer, 30 bags of feed, 10 bales of hay and a $200 check for each recipient 4-H member in South Dakota.
“We achieved much more than we had hoped to,” says Herring.
Herring adds that the 4-Hers worked with the heifers to halter break them for the recipients.
The names of the recipients were provided to the group from the 4-H educators from South Dakota, and a drawing chose the selected recipients.
“Our only stipulation was that the recipients had to show the heifers in breeding classes at this year’s county fair,” said Herring.
On Dec. 28, the club delivered the heifers to their recipients in South Dakota.
“The heifers were delivered to three 4-Hers who live in three different counties, so they will be shown at three different county fairs this year,” says Herring.
The first stop was in Rapid City, S.D. to 15-year-old Cassidy Goetz.
Goetz lost her herd that she had been building as a way to help save for her college. She also lost her barrel horse and a colt that was going to be her next barrel horse.
The next recipient was second year 4-H member Kody Komes.
Komes had never done a beef project before and thought he wouldn’t be able to until the Horseshoe Acres 4-H group gave him a Black Angus heifer.
Komes named his heifer Horseshoe Hope, after the Goshen County 4-H group and for the hope he had for the future.
Herring adds, “It gave me goosebumps when I heard what Kody named his heifer.”
The last heifer went to 4-H member Lexie Burtzlas.
“Lexie’s dad said he was going to go to the sale barn and buy something for her project because they lost all of their cattle,” said Herring, adding that the Goshen County 4-Hers donation alleviated the financial strain on the family.
Horseshoe Acres 4-H Club also wanted to make the experience a continual learning opportunity. Each 4-H member that was involved will write a report about Atlas and the effects it had on the agriculture community in South Dakota.
“Hopefully some of them will keep in touch with the recipients and we’ll have some of the reports on the heifers themselves and how the kids are doing,” says Herring.