Not everyone who shows an animal at the Monroe County Fair gets to participate in the Junior Livestock Auction.

That is reserved for a select few, chosen by judges, who have excelled and met the qualifications with their FFA projects.

Nelda Bailey, Tomah High School agriculture teacher and FFA advisor, said the fair is the culmination of the students’ projects. She said it’s a reward for all their hard work to participate in the auction.

“It’s icing on the cake,” Bailey said.

She said being selected for the auction, which starts at 7 p.m. Saturday, July 28, shows that students possess the skill and knowledge of what it takes to raise a quality animal that’s ready for market.

It’s not an easy task for students to make it to the auction, Bailey said. To be market ready means the animal is the right size and weight, is ready for processing to be on a consumer’s plate, and is a high-quality animal that meets standards. She said takes skill and knowledge for students to meet the requirements.

“High quality is what you’re feeding them ... and how the animals are worked with. Genetics is also part of it,” Bailey said. “So it’s genetics, feeding management, a lot of skills that go into raising an animal. It’s not just having an animal in a pen or pasture, it’s the managing of it, feeding it. Some critters will eat just about anything, and some are like we are and some are pickier than others, so it’s managing all that to get them all to market weight.”

Travis Von Haden has shown at the fair and participated in the livestock auction for 10 years. Von Haden said he doesn’t specifically raise an animal to sell it but raises it for the fair. However, he said it’s still satisfying to make it to the livestock auction.

“It is an honor to be able to sell an animal at the Junior Livestock Sale because not everyone is given this opportunity,” he said. “I feel like all of my hard work has paid off.”

Participating in the fair with FFA has taught him life skills, Von Haden said.

“Hard work, dedication, and responsibility are all skills that I have gained through taking care of my fair project,” he said. “Not only have I had fun working with my animals, but the lifelong skills that I have gained through caring and raising these animals will last a lifetime. Being able to participate in the Junior Livestock Auction has shown just how using these skills is beneficial. I have also learned to be grateful if picked to be a participant in the Junior Livestock Auction as not every exhibitor is chosen.”

Kari Hericks, Junior Livestock treasurer, said she enjoys seeing the students get rewarded for all they’ve done. She said selling at the auction is a “year-round project ... to be able to sell at auction and get a good premium.”

“It’s hard work, and the kids deserve it as a big reward at the end,” Hericks said. “I also love watching how the auctions go and the fire and battles that get the crowd going and the kids excited. It’s a great time.”

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