4-H auctions take center stage at fair
For four months, members of the area 4-H organizations raised their animals to be judged and eventually auctioned away to the highest bidder.
That can be hard the first time out but 4-H-ers do it in hope of making a profit and earning money to help fund college expenses whether their ultimate course of study is agriculture or not.
On Saturday, at the Southwest Florida & Lee County Fair, dozens of swine and cows were put up for auction.
Buyers ran the gamut from commercial to those a lot closer to home.
William Cross of North Fort Myers, whose hog placed third in the swine competition last week, got a surprise at auction time.
His mom, Christin, arranged it so that sponsors and friends would bid on the swine, driving the price way up.
The result was that the 249-pound pig was sold for $20 per pound, good for almost $5,000, by far the most expensive swine on the block.
Cross, 17, a senior at Riverdale High School, has been a 4-H member for 10 years.
“I always loved animals so my parents put me in and I’ve loved it ever since,” Cross said, who has been with the 4-H that meets at the North Fort Myers Community Park. “I’ve liked all the new friends I’ve made and hanging out with them.”
Members of 4-H get pigs in November when they are little babies and are expected to raise them for the purpose of being able to sell them at market.
The youths keep records of what they spend on feed, veterinary care, and weight, among other things. William’s pig cost about $500, with that money going to help William go to Fort Myers Technical College to take up welding.
“He works as a mechanic with the farm equipment and trailers,” Christin said. “We all want to help him get started.”
Cross got to have his picture taken with family and Megan Mahoney, the Southwest Florida & Lee County Fair queen, who represents the fair and 4-H.
She handed out awards in all the categories and told participants who didn’t win that they did well nonetheless.
“It has definitely taught me some life lessons, responsibility and having patience as well,” said Mahoney, who took part in the horse speed show and barrel races. “I liked animals, so I started with a rabbit, went to the horse and got leadership positions. I also like helping the younger kids.”
One of the things the kids are taught is to not get attached to the animals you care for, since they are not pets, but livestock.
Taylor Purvis, 17, has been in 4-H for nine years, and knew the ropes as she readied to sell her 229-pound swine.
“I’m hoping to make some big bucks. My boyfriend got $15 a pound and did really good,” Purvis said. “My mom gets more attached to the animals than I do. But I know these animals are for market so I don’t get attached to them. Many of them do. I saw a little girl snuggling her pig and crying.”