November 24, 2004 | By: Laura Skillman

College students from four Kentucky universities gained valuable experience helping with beef and sheep shows at the recent North American International Livestock Exposition.

The internship program began about four years ago under the direction of Kim Ragland, a former University of Kentucky College of Agriculture faculty member who now serves as Boyle County 4-H Youth Development agent, and Corinne Fetter, director of expositions with the Kentucky Fair andExposition Center ..

Ragland said it started to infuse younger people into the volunteer ranks.

“We recognized that those of us who volunteer every year at the North American were getting older and finding it harder and harder to walk on this concrete," she said. "So we realized we needed to get some young people involved and people that love it as much as we do and want to come back year after year as volunteers.”

The program started with just beef but expanded this year into the sheep area as well.  This year there are eight interns. Four are animal science students at the UK College of Agriculture. The others are from Western Kentucky University ,Eastern Kentucky University and Murray StateUniversity ..

Interns must be nominated by their college to participate in the program.

“We let them pick the students based on those who want the experience, are able to participate and are ready for the experience,” Ragland said.

Ragland said the assignments are made by the beef and sheep show superintendents who work heavily with her in her role as superintendent of the junior beef heifer show.

“They get to do a lot, from assigning stalls and checking in animals to assisting with the conduct of the shows – a lot of running,” she said. “They participate in all aspects of the show. They work with the feeder cattle, the steers, and the junior heifer show. Over in the sheep barn, they work with the market lambs and the breeding sheep. Everything we do, they get to be a part of it.”

Ragland said they hope the program is educational for the students. Many have never exhibited livestock so they get to see something they’ve never experienced.

“The second part of it is we hope they get to make a lot of contacts as far as their job searches,” she said. “A lot of them are juniors or seniors who are starting to think about their careers. We come into contact with a lot of state Department of Agriculture people and university folks here and then there are breed representatives and purebreeders from across the country. So, we are hoping they can make some contacts that will help them in their future careers.”

Harold Workman, president and chief executive officer of the Kentucky State Fair Board, which puts on the North American annually, praised the internship program. He said it helps with manpower for the show and helps the students further their education.

“It’s a great learning tool,” he said. “It will help shape what they are doing in college and maybe what they do after college. It is a great program and we are pleased to be a part of it and have the opportunity to help those students further their educations.”

Andrea Lunsford, a UK senior, wants to go to graduate school to study animal nutrition and believes the internship will provide some good experience and contacts in the industry.

 “It’s an honor to get picked and it is a good thing to put on a resume, plus you get to meet people,” said Ashley Hawkins, a UK senior. Hawkins has shown beef cattle at the North American in the past so she already was familiar with the event that draws livestock producers from 48 states.

For UK senior Jacqueline Wahrmund, much of her experience has been with horses and the North American offers her a chance to gain more experience around beef cattle and other livestock.

“They told us it would be pretty strenuous,” she said. “They said we’d probably be working late into the night and getting up early in the morning.”

UK Sophomore Brent Brockman said he hoped to gain more knowledge on how shows work.

“I think it is just great to actually be a part of what makes this show run,” he said. “It is a great honor to be a part of the largest purebred livestock show in the world and to be able to make it work the way it is supposed to.”



Writer: Laura Skillman 270-365-7541 ext. 278
Source: Kim Ragland, 859-236-4484