|Josh Chisholm from a couple of years ago with his cow at the State Fair|
“I’d highly recommend it,” he said. “It’s a good way to meet people and learn a lot of new things.”
Chisholm, 17, will be a senior at Carthage High School in the fall and has been showing dairy cattle for 10 years. He’s been a regular at the Jefferson County Fair in Watertown, and he showed for two years — 2012 and 2013 — at the New York State Fair near Syracuse.
In his first year there, he took first place in Ayrshire Showmanship and first place in the junior 3-year-old 4-H class. In the open show — in which everyone shows — he placed fourth.
“The state fair is a big competition that everyone takes seriously,” Chisholm said. “You can see how much time people put into it.”
4-H — which stands for head, heart, hands and health — is a worldwide network of youth development and mentoring programs.
4-H is operated by Cooperative Extension offices throughout the United States and provides educational and developmental programs for youths, including agriculture, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), environment, creative arts, healthy living, and business and citizenship.
4-H also helps youngsters develop social skills and participate in experiences that provide them with the skills and opportunities to grow into successful adults.
Josh first got involved with cattle when he joined 4-H 10 years ago. He said his grandfather owned a dairy farm at the time and that his mother, Julie, was in 4-H when she was growing up on the farm. His grandmother was a 4-H educator.
“Grandpa bought us calves to show,” Josh said.
From there it was on to learning how to exhibit animals, how to deal with unruly animals, and how to act in a show ring.
Josh said showing as a youth was always fun — getting to see friends you hadn’t seen in a while and spending time at the fair.
But while showing cattle was “fun and games” when he was younger, it was a more serious endeavor as he got older. He said he learned a lot at each competition and used that knowledge to improve each time he stepped into the show ring.
“I’m a very competitive person, but the biggest thing I learned is you can’t always win,” Chisholm said. “And from that, I learned that I would have to work harder and that there was something I could do better next time.”
He said he remembers one show at the state fair when the judge was having difficulty deciding among the top three competitors. The judge pulled all three cattle out for a final look, and right at that time, Josh’s cow started sidestepping instead of walking normally.
“It angered me,” Chisholm said. “If affects you, but then you have to remember what you’ve learned.”
Chisholm said he isn’t sure which field of study he’ll pursue when he attends college in the fall of 2016, but he’s narrowed his choices to agricultural business, dairy management and environmental conservation.
*** If you'd like to read more stories like this, subscribe to Empire Farm & Dairy magazine. A one-year subscription is $50 and two years are $75. Send a check to Empire Farm & Dairy, 260 Washington St., Watertown, NY, 13601