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Ag Expo market sale the payoff for months of hard work

Washington County 4-H, Future Farmers of America teaches its young members responsibility

July 26, 2012|By C.J. LOVELACE | cj.lovelace@herald-mail.com
  • Tyler Poffenberger leads his market lamb around the ring Thursday during the Washington County 4-H and Future Farmers of America Market Animal Sale at the Washington County Agricultural Education Center near Sharpsburg.
By Colleen McGrath, Staff Photographer

Months of hard work by dozens of local youths culminated Thursday night in the Washington County 4-H and Future Farmers of America Market Animal Sale at the county Ag Expo.

Hundreds attended the event inside the AC&T Arena on the expo grounds, where about 180 animals, including market lambs, goats, hogs, rabbits, and beef and dairy steers, were sold to the highest bidder.

Curtis Uzellac, president of the Market Sale, said each participant picks a young animal or raises one from birth as their project before selling it at market value.

Some buyers take the opportunity to stock their freezers with meat while others, like companies or organizations, choose to purchase an animal to share with employees or among a group, Uzellac said.

Either way, the sale benefits the children who spend hours upon hours caring for and raising their animals, he said.

“It helps these kids learn the responsibility to raise an animal up to a market weight and be able to sell it in an agricultural field,” Uzellac said.

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“This is a good turnout tonight,” he said. “The kids go out and see people about buying their animal. They work hard doing this. It’s grown in Washington County and ... you know what is going into these animals. It’s not hormones and everything. It’s not organic, but they know what’s going into them.”

Robby Holsinger, general manager of Holsinger’s Meat Market in Maugansville, purchased a 122-pound lamb raised by Taylor Gigeous.

Holsinger said it was his first time purchasing animals at the event, but it presents a good opportunity to get the company name out there while contributing to the benefit of local farmers and youths starting to learn the trade, which ultimately will benefit their business in the future.

“They’re learning to raise good healthy animals, and that will help us in the long run,” he said. “It’s hard work. There’s a huge learning curve. I can’t think of any other organization where they’re going to learn this kind of responsibility.”

Ryan Burcker, an 18-year-old Washington County 4-H member from Williamsport, said he raised his 138-pound market lamb, which sold for $5.25 per pound, for about five months. The projects start in May when the animals are first weighed, he said.

“It’s a lot of hard work ... and it’s a lot of responsibility,” said Burcker, who encouraged other local youths to join the 4-H Club. “You learn a lot of new things. You make a lot of new friendships through 4-H.”

Burcker, a recent high school graduate, also showed two hogs weighing 277 and 269 pounds each, two beef steers weighing in at 1,271 and 1,051 pounds, as well as another 140-pound lamb.

Burcker said he planned to use the money from the sale toward his first car and tuition at Hagerstown Community College. He said he plans to study two years locally before transferring to finish his degree, probably in agricultural sales or management.

“It’s not hard, and in the end, you make a lot of money,” he said. “It’s just like a head start.”

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