Southern Maryland Meats has always seen one of its missions as supporting our next generation of livestock farmers. Through sponsorship of the Southern Maryland Invitational Livestock Exposition (SMILE Show), and our Junior Participant Program, SMM has sought to provide financial, instructional, and marketing support to the youth aged 8 though 21 of our 5 Southern Maryland counties. As part of our Junior Program, we ask each participant to write a short essay about their season and their experiences with their animals. This year was especially challenging for our Juniors with the SMILE Show and County Fairs being canceled.
Nonetheless, we have 23 Juniors in the Program this year, and we are excited to share with you their essay responses to one of the three questions offered in 2020:
- The COVID-19 Virus has severely disrupted our communities and our interactions. How did the pandemic affect your family and your farm? Did it change the way you raise your livestock?
- Have you considered farming and raising livestock something you would like to do as a career? What do you think the challenges and successes would be?
- Consumers love to buy local foods, however, there are also many other choices available to them at the supermarket. How do we convince them to buy local foods all the time?
We are very proud of our Juniors and are pleased to share with you their essays. You will find our very first entry below, featuring Ms. Maci Childress from Anne Arundel County.
“My name is Maci Childress, and I have chosen to write my essay on how COVID-19 has affected my family and our farm. I am almost 10 years old and I live on a working farm in Lothian, MD. We raise beef cattle, corn, soybean, straw and hay. Beginning in January 2020 I was new to 4-H. I signed up with my local group and was very excited to learn everything there was to learn about 4-H. I hope to one day raise a cow of my own as a livestock project, but for this year I chose to raise market goats. I had never had any experience with goats and was hoping this year I would be able to attend lots of things to learn how to care for them.
I got my first goat Buckley in February followed by my second goat Luci in March. Shortly after, in end of March – early April, COVID-19 hit hard. Everything about raising my new goats became a challenge. I was no longer able to go to my cousins who were teaching me all about goats. I couldn’t go into the store to buy my feed and supplies, my mom had to do it for me. I was super excited about the SMILE show in June but that was cancelled. My 4-H meetings moved to zoom, and I no longer had the ability to have hands on training. I decided my only choice was to learn things for myself. I began looking up things online to help me. I played with my animals everyday so I could get to know their needs. I learned that I needed to feed them at the same time every day to keep them happy and on schedule.
In conclusion, things were not as I was expecting them to be this year. However, I have my first open show next week and I am excited to bring everything I have learned and do my best. COVID-19 has presented me with some challenges but I was determined to overcome.”
Stay tuned for another SMM Junior Essay feature coming soon.