The 2012 Dixie National Sale of Junior Champions was the most successful sale to date, bringing in almost $300,000.
The Dixie National Junior Livestock Show, held each February in Jackson, has concluded for the last 43 years with the sale of champion market animals. Philanthropic buyers have contributed more than $4.5 million throughout the history of the Sale of Junior Champions. In addition to money received for the 44 market steers, hogs, lambs and goats, the Sales Committee awarded 25 scholarships worth $1,500, five premier exhibitors scholarships worth $2,000 each and four supreme exhibitors scholarships worth $1,000 each to this year's top exhibitors.
"Having an animal in this sale is no accident," said Dean Jousan, Extension 4-H livestock specialist with Mississippi State University. "These kids and their families put a lot of planning and thought into raising these animals. Taking care of these animals is a lot of hard work."
Kathryn Dooley, 16, a 4-H'er from Yazoo County, had a lamb in the sale and also raises and shows pigs and horses.
"I spend about three hours a day feeding, grooming and practicing with my animals," Dooley said. "It takes a lot of time to exercise them and practice with all of them."
Dooley has been showing animals since she was 8 years old.
"I do it because I love it," she said. "It has taught me a lot about responsibility, leadership and sportsmanship. Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose."
The 2012 Sale of Champions included 44 steers, hogs, goats and lambs and brought a preliminary total of $299,352.50, surpassing the previous record of $279,008.50.
Alexandra Pittman of Forrest County set a record with her reserve champion medium weight goat, which brought $100 per pound. Ronnie Herrington of Energy Group made the winning bid on the animal.
Pittman said she will donate her portion of the proceeds to a 7-year-old child with spina bifida who lives in her county. The preliminary total for the 82-pound goat was $22,900. Many donors added money after the auction ended, and the figure could increase once final calculations are complete.
4-H and other programs that educate youth about agriculture are critical to Mississippi's future.
"You can't be an underachiever and be here today," Gov. Phil Bryant told the crowd gathered for the sale. "You are supporting the future. We need their leadership if Mississippi is going to be an agribusiness leader."
Buyers also recognize the importance of supporting the youth.
"I do this because of the kids," Herrington said after placing the winning bid. "I want to support these kids, who will feed our families and our country in the future. These programs teach our kids to provide for themselves and their families, and they place an emphasis on family morals."
Preliminary figures indicate steers brought a total of $79,992.50 at an average of $8.82 per pound. Hogs brought a preliminary total of $75,156.50 at an average of $23.80 per pound. Goats brought a preliminary total of $50,329 at an average of $52.00 per pound, and lambs brought a preliminary total of $67,024.50 at an average of $31.13 per pound.
Thirty-five scholarships, totaling $51,500, were given.
The 2012 Dixie National Livestock Show included 1,600 4-H and FFA youth and 2,300 head of livestock.