Southeast Bulloch High School was the site over the weekend for a Clipping and Fitting Clinic for FFA and 4-H students, and National Ambassador and Educator Kirk Stierwalt, from Leedey, Okla., led the three-day clinic. 

A total of 47 attended the event, 26 of which were FFA and 4-H students from 10 counties across Georgia and one participant from Florida.

"I love kids and letting them learn hands-on," said organizer and Dixie Charm Farms owner Kristina Gantt. "This is our third year hosting the clinic, and the kids learn how to clip their own cows for showing."

Stierwalt, who has a ranch with 200 cows in western Oklahoma, grew up showing livestock as a child, and raised his kids to do the same. A leader in the industry, Stierwalt has spent 32 years traveling around the country teaching youngsters about cattle. Also a Cattle Product Ambassador for Purina Mills, Stierwalt promotes animal health through nutrition and represents the company across the United States and abroad. 

"I'm thankful that I get to do what I do. I give kids the guidelines to go by and let them work from there, get them headed in the right direction and let them grow," Stierwalt said. "We all have the same passion in this business. We're raising kids with livestock — creating a great family environment in the process."

During the weekend-long clinic, students learned the importance of animal care, health and nutrition. Students also learned about clipping, which means cutting hair; fitting, which entails the overall appearance for show ring display during judging; showmanship that includes show ring etiquette, how to work with their cow in the ring and how best to present their projects to the judge, and tips and techniques to improve their cattle handling abilities and knowledge. 

"I started this clinic three years ago to educate our youngest, Ty Gantt, now 12, on the techniques and what it takes to show cattle in FFA or 4-H," Kristina Gantt said. "The clinics are a way Dixie Charm Farms can give back to the community."

The cost for the event included the opportunity for participants to bring a heifer or steer in order to work hands-on with their own animal during the clinic. 

Speaking of the instructor, she said, "He's like everyone's grandpa. He's so patient, and he helps the kids and the parents. He breaks it down so you can understand it."

Seay raises her own show cattle and sells them to family and friends, she said, and bought her first heifer when she was just 12. 

Garrett Collins, another rising senior who has participated all three years, said his family farm in Effingham County is comprised of 20 head of cattle, Black Angus and Simmental. 

"It's great to come learn from people that know more than you and can help you understand," Collins said. "You can really tell Kirk wants you to succeed, and he gives you the confidence to know you're doing it right."

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Younger students participated, too, and 13-year-old Mikayla McDonald from Perry said she's glad to learn how to clip her own cow for the smaller shows where she has to do it herself. 

Sponsors for the event include Anderson's General Store, Agri-Supply of Statesboro, Tractor Supply Company, Vandy's Restaurant and Bulloch County Georgia Farm Bureau. 

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