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

The Covington News - - SPORTS - TERRI KIM­BLE COLUM­NIST

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 be- cause 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.

Lizzie Teasley, a third grader at Heard-Mixon Ele­men­tary, pre­par­ing her 4-H lamb for a show­man­ship com­pe­ti­tion.

“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 win- ning 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.

Photo by Todd Teasley

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