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Posted: January 29, 2011 6:04 p.m.

Newton Classic spotlights youth and livestock

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Peppermint Pattie, called "P" for short, can't stand the color pink.

According to Ava Jane Teasley, she is "a big fat diva" who prefers the color green, which is convenient since they're in 4-H.

P's neighbors Vegas and Milk Dud, however, don't seem to have a favored color.

"If they have a favorite, I don't know about it," said Dillon Parker, an FFA member.

By the way, P, Vegas, and Milk Dud are heifers shown by Ava Jane and Dillon at livestock shows.

Ava Jane is a 4th grade 4-H'er at Heard-Mixon; Dillon is an Alcovy High sophomore and FFA member.

They may show for competing organizations, but the two have worked together for the past two years.

Last year both showed hogs for the first time, and this year each moved to heifers.

Their animals live side by side at the FFA Camp, and the two youth work side by side each day to care for the animals and improve their showing skills.

Dillon takes agriculture classes with Ben Brand and Robert Cobb, then teaches Ava Jane.

Ava Jane passes on her skills to younger sister and lamb showman Elizabeth Teasley, although she said her little sister generally doesn't want to listen.

She thinks, though, that this might be helping her to be a better listener when Dillon is teaching her about beef cattle.

Dillon also said he's learned a lot about showing techniques from the Teasley family.

With their age difference, they usually don't compete against each other at shows and instead cheer each other on.

At the Newton Classic Livestock Show last February; however, the two had to go head to head in the first time showman competition.

They took top honors with Dillon in first and Ava Jane in second.

"It was a challenge," said Dillon, "but I didn't let up any slack because it was her."

Ava Jane and Dillon both agree that they performed well because they spent so much time working with their hogs, and even sought advice from veteran showmen like Ronnie Few.

Dillon, son of Scott and Kerri Parker, joined FFA last year after hearing his older brother talk about agriculture classes.

The FFA motto is "learning to do, doing to learn, earning to live, living to serve."

Dillon illustrates this through dedication to agriculture classes and showing, passing his knowledge on to others, and learning financial management skills through his project.

"You don't realize how fast the receipts add up," said Dillon about his heifers.

He worked at the FFA Camp last summer to pay for his first heifer, and keeps records of all entry fees, show supplies, feed and other expenses for his record book.
Dillon easily rattled off costs such as a bag of Godfrey's show calf winning program grower, explaining how he will invest a total of $1400 to $1500 in his Charolais heifer, Vegas.

He expects to either break even or make up to about $300 in profit after selling her after the state show.

Third year 4-H'er Ava Jane is the daughter of Todd and Lisa Teasley and lives at the FFA Camp.

She said her project fits the 4-H motto "to make the best better," because "every time I show I have a lesson at the end."

One of those lessons has been that her heifer, Peppermint Pattie, has a personality like a person; another is that you can't get everything you want.

"I always think everything is a competition," said Ava Jane. "I even compete at having the cleanest stall."

She practices with her breeding ewes alongside her sister Elizabeth and friend Rachel Dabney, who also show 4-H lambs.

On February 12 at 11 a.m., you can see Ava Jane, Dillon, and their fellow club members from across the county showing lambs, hogs, and cattle at the Newton Classic Livestock Show.

The local show, held in the Newton High livestock barn, gives students one last chance to work on their skills before the state show in Perry.

They'll also earn ribbons, trophies, belt buckles and cash prizes.

One might think the prizes are incentive, but when asked why they show livestock both Ava Jane and Dillon are in complete agreement: "because it's fun!"

Terri Kimble is the 4-H Educator for Newton County 4-H. She can be reached at (770) 784-2010.

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