Sale of Champions spotlights persistent competitors

Published 1:19 pm Saturday, February 12, 2022

By Nathan Gregory

MSU Extension Service

JACKSON, Miss. — Lily and Emma Grace Putnam raised their Mississippi-bred reserve champion lamb in their Sunflower County pasture, which they recently finished fencing in with the help of loans and grants.

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“We have always had the land and have been pasturing it in piece by piece as we’ve been able to, but we needed to complete the fencing this year so we could finish breeding our ewes,” said Lily Putnam, a Sunflower County 4-H’er based in Sunflower County. “The loan was helpful to me because we used it to buy equipment to get ready for lambing and start a breeding business.”

This year marks her 10th and last time to compete at the Dixie National Junior Round-Up, as well as her second appearance at the Dixie National Junior Sale of Champions.

Putnam was one of 1,538 4-H and FFA members across Mississippi at the round-up to show 2,262 head of livestock including steers, hogs, goats and lambs. Forty-six champion market animals advanced to the sale through the round-up. This year’s Sale of Champions generated a preliminary total of $448,500, breaking the previous record by more than $40,000. The sale included 46 champion market animals, including 15 hogs, 12 goats, 10 lambs and nine steers.

A freshman at Mississippi Delta Community College majoring in biology, Putnam plans to transfer to Mississippi State University in the future and major in animal and dairy sciences with a preveterinary concentration.

“I love to compete, and show day is one of my favorite days of the year, but the process leading up to it interests me because you have to work hard with your animal throughout the year if you want it to perform well at the show,” she said. “I take pride in knowing my sister and I worked closely with our animals every step of the way.”

MSU Extension 4-H livestock specialist Dean Jousan said the Putnams are an example of many exhibitors at the annual Dixie National Junior Round-Up who personify persistence and a strong work ethic.

“The organizations that offer youth loans and grants want to know what kinds of livestock projects the applicants are doing, how they propose to generate income and what expenses are expected,” Jousan said.

“The process of applying and the process of getting an animal in peak condition takes a lot of effort and responsibility and a willingness to do whatever it takes for 4-H’ers to make their projects successful.”

The sale’s committee raised $61,500 in support for 39 scholarships, including 25 $1,500 scholarships to exhibitors who are high school seniors, six $2,000 scholarships to premier exhibitors and eight $1,500 scholarships to exhibitors of supreme champion livestock.

As of the completion of its 53rd event, the sale has generated more than $8.5 million through livestock sales. Hosted at the Mississippi Trade Mart, the sale began in 1970 as an avenue to encourage young people to pursue livestock projects.