Approximately 75 youth, parents and volunteers participated in State 4-H Sheep Conference, June 1 and 2, hosted by Tennessee Tech University. 4-H is the University of Tennessee Extension youth development program. The Sheep Conference began Friday night with a session for 8th-12th grade 4-Hers to learn about sheep genetics.

Participants learned about the biology of genetics by making DNA models with candy and marshmallows. Also, economically important growth, carcass, fleece and health traits were discussed and their application to sheep selection. Those who participated in the Friday evening session were oriented to be leaders for younger 4-H members on Saturday.

Saturday’s program included sessions on grooming, showmanship, feeding, health concerns and working with sheep genotypes. Dr. Fred Hopkins discussed sheep care before and during the show season. Teen leaders were responsible for younger members and each team worked on learning centers associated with the skillathon.

Several 4-H members put up educational exhibits, and the winners were Rachael Wolters (Maury County), Ben Davis (Hawkins County) and LeAnna Tanner (Wilson County).

The shepherd’s quiz was taken by all 4th-6th grade members and those scoring in the 90th percentile received special recognition. Those individuals included Cooper Belcher (Trousdale County), Andy Davis (Hawkins County), Emily Johnson (Loudon County) and Abby Tipton (Loudon County).

The 7th-12th grade members also took a written test and competed in the lamb quiz bowl. The winning team from Loudon County consisted of Morgan Cox, Cassie McConkey and Madison Moats.

The event concluded with the annual meeting of the Tennessee Junior Sheep Producers Association and the election of new officers for the 2012-2013 year. The newly elected board members are:

President and Representative-at-Large: Tori Bryant (Lawrence County)
Vice President and Representative-at-Large: Morgan Cox (Loudon County)
Secretary and Representative-at-Large: Savannah Knight (Macon County)
Reporter and Hampshire Representative: Madison Moats (Loudon County)
Southdown Representative: Cassie McConkey (Loudon County)
Shropshire Representative: Chey Johnson (Loudon County)
Dorset Representative: Alexis Moats (Loudon County)
All Other Breeds Representatives: Nate Long (Loudon County) and Justin Cross (Knox County)

As the youth development program for University of Tennessee Extension 4-H teaches leadership, citizenship and life skills to more than 302,000 youth in grades 4-12. 4-H also has more than 15,000 adult volunteers. UT Extension is one of four units of the UT Institute of Agriculture and maintains offices in every county of the state.

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