Trends in Texas youth livestock exhibition and County Extension agent perceptions and adoption of quality counts



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Each year, County Extension Agents dedicate many hours toward educational programs to serve clientele. One of the largest programs in 4-H is the youth livestock project. Livestock projects take a significant amount of time and there is a variety of programs offered to youth exhibitors. One of these educational programs offered though Texas Cooperative Extension is Quality Counts. Quality Counts focuses on teaching character education and quality assurance to youth livestock exhibitors. The purpose of this study was to determine the total number of youth livestock projects entered in Texas during 2006 and identify any apparent educational trends. The second objective of this study was to determine how Quality Counts is perceived by County Extension Agents. To complete this study, a web based survey was sent administered to every County Extension office in Texas. 250 of 254 counties responded to the survey (98.43% response rate). From data collected, it was revealed that there were a total of 89,839 total livestock projects entered in 2006 at the county level (76,225 market and 13, 614 breeding). This data was compared to a previous study completed in 2001 by Boleman, Howard, Smith, and Couch. This data compared market livestock entry numbers. Based upon the comparison, market livestock projects have increased by 7.06% since 2000. Beef cattle and goats have increased, while sheep and swine have slightly decreased. Roughly a third of Texas counties will be utilizing the Quality Counts curriculum during the year 2007. Qualitative analysis reveals that Quality Counts is seen as educationally useful and easy to implement into traditional livestock educational programming, and is most often used as part of ongoing project clinics. Most importantly, program participants are increasing their knowledge of livestock projects, character, and ethics. Respondents are also beginning to see program participants? behaviors change because of participating in Quality Counts.