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Posted: December 4, 2012 11:59 p.m.

4-H’er gives the gift of fairness, generosity

We can count how many books a youth donated or how many hours they cleaned up a riverbed.

However, I don't know how to count or measure responsibility, self-discipline and fairness, but Lizzie Teasley surely proved this year that she has mastered these skills.

This Newton County 4-H'er and third grader in Mrs. Hargrove's class at Heard-Mixon Elementary is already an accomplished showman.

She has owned and raised her own livestock projects since the age of 4, beginning with two bull calves. Today, she owns two cows, a calf, a market hog, two market lambs, two breeding ewes and a goat, and shows all except the cattle with 4-H.

Parents Todd and Lisa Teasley are always at the shows, working alongside both their 4-H showmen, but they taught the girls to be responsible for their own projects.

"I offered to help her at a show," said Ted Wynne, Newton County Agricultural and Natural Resources agent. "But she said I could just help her get the lamb onto the clipping stand because it was so big."

"Then she just went at it, sweating away as she clipped the lamb herself without any hesitation."

Lizzie and her sister Ava Teasley of Indian Creek Middle School, have also bred and sold lambs; with this and other livestock income, Lizzie purchased her own trailer.

In addition to learning about livestock and business from her project, Lizzie has shared her knowledge with others.

As a first-grade showman, she was invited to teach about goats and lambs at the Newton County Farm Bureau Young Farmers farm day for Pre-K students.

With her ribbons flying in the wind on the fence behind her and a huge, shiny belt buckle sparkling in the sun, she wowed several hundred students nearly her own age as she taught them how she washed, clipped, fed and showed goats and lambs.


But Lizzie has also demonstrated her mastery of lessons a little tougher to measure - fairness and generosity.

During breeding showmanship for third-fifth grade at the Georgia National Fair, Lizzie said, "I didn't show my best. I wasn't pushing hard enough and my sheep just wasn't cooperating that day."

She expected to come in third.

Instead, she won first and the belt buckle.

In case you haven't been to a show, belt buckles are the big prize - they're huge, shiny, and much sought after.

"I should have lost," said Lizzie. The competitor she expected to come in first earned third.

"She knew how to show. She deserved it, and I knew she had not won a buckle," she said.

Afterward, Lizzie was still convinced the other girl deserved the buckle, so she talked to her parents who told her she should make her own decision.

"At first she said no, but we told her that she should have it," said Lizzie. When her competitor finally accepted the buckle, she said it made her feel she had done the right thing.

Lizzie is the first to tell you that going in the show ring is her favorite part of showing livestock - not the late night exercise with the lambs or the nightly hog feeding.

She likes to win and she does it often.

But on this fall day in Perry, Lizzie proved that winning isn't everything.

Lizzie bravely acted on her convictions, generously sharing her honors with a respected competitor.

It's hard to imagine a 4-H'er of any age acting so selflessly in the name of fairness, and to be honest, I've never heard of a 4-H'er giving away his or her buckle.

On a day when many of us are rushing around looking for one last gift to wrap, Lizzie's example makes me pause.

Makes me think a little more about those intangibles, and how much more important they are than anything exchanged in gift wrap.

What a gift she gave, so much more than just that chunk of metal.

Merry Christmas from Newton County 4-H.


Terri Kimble is the Newton County 4-H Agent through UGA Cooperative Extension. She can be reached at (770) 784-2010 or tkimble@uga.edu.

 

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