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Aldermere Achievers excel at National Livestock Expo

By Gabriel Blodgett | Nov 26, 2019
Source: Heidi Baker Left to right, members of the Aldermere Achievers Jordan Overlock; Aldermere Farm General Manager, Heidi Baker; Britney Jackson; Isabelle Baker; Adam Eaton; Elizabeth Eaton; Julia Benson and Anthony Benson at the North American International Livestock Expo in Louisville, Ky.

Rockport — Seven members of the Aldermere Achievers 4-H program recently returned from a strong showing at the North American International Livestock Expo, Nov. 17 to 22, in Louisville, Ky., with several of the members receiving special recognition.

The Achievers are Aldermere Farm’s 4-H program for children ages 12 to 18, and General Manager Heidi Baker said the Expo, the largest all-breed purebred livestock event in the world, provides a great opportunity for the members to experience agriculture in different ways than is possible in Maine and the northeast.

In order to attend the event, Baker said over the last three years the children raised approximately $13,000 “through grassroots fundraising, including spaghetti dinners, art work raffles, bake sales and a farm stand” among other methods.

Because of the cost of the trip, Baker said they try to attend the expo every four or five years in order to ensure all of the participants in the program get the opportunity to attend at least once.

The seven Achievers who attended this year were Anthony Benson, Jordan Overlock, Julia Benson, Isabelle Baker, Elizabeth Eaton, Adam Eaton, and Britney Jackson

The event took place in a massive sporting complex that is transformed into a huge barn for the event, which hosts over 30,000 entries from 48 states. Baker said the floor of the complex is covered with a sandpaper-like material and the wood shavings are dyed green, a tradition unique to prestigious livestock shows.

She added that apart from making for great photos, having a cattle worthy of going on the “green shavings” is itself an honor.

Baker drove down with the cattle and met the children who flew on Sun. Nov. 17.

Monday was spent setting up the area for the cows and perusing a mall of vendors selling cowboy and cattle-related paraphernalia, something Baker said the kids thoroughly enjoyed.

Tuesday was spent prepping and clipping the cattle for showing on Wednesday and Thursday.

The participants were judged in two ways, the first being showmanship, where the contestants paraded past judges and were asked questions about their animal.

Baker wrote that this category requires youth members to “be on their game, professional, and able to speak intelligently to the judge about their projects.”

The showmanship competition consists of novice, intermediate, and senior age groups and Isabelle Baker received the Grand Champion Novice Showmanship Award, “the Number 1 showman in the United States for her age group,” according to Heidi Baker.

Contestants were also judged on breed classes; basically the quality of the cattle.

Elizabeth Eaton, a 15-year-old long-standing 4-H member who has started her own herd of Belties in Hope, placed second in her class,  behind only the Grand Champion in the National Belted Galloway Show, which Baker called “a highly competitive group.”

She said “for Elizabeth to achieve it with her very first bred and owned, competing against adults as a youth member is an amazing achievement.”

Adam Eaton also won Reserve Grand Champion Senior Division in the breed classes.

Baker said that beyond providing an opportunity to travel and experience agriculture in a different light, the program’s focus on public speaking and process of training the animals and gaining their trust “brings on a sense of respect, work ethic and self-guidance that is hard to capture in many educational settings.”



Elizabeth Eaton shows off her Belted Galloway at the North American International Livestock Expo. Eaton placed second in the National Belted Galloway Show. (Source: Heidi Baker)
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Comments (2)
Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Nov 27, 2019 12:25

Good show and so wonderful an experience for the kids!

Posted by: Jeff Sukeforth | Nov 26, 2019 13:15

Congratulations to all the Achievers on a great showing in Kentucky!

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