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South Dakota Pig Pals brings youth togetherSouth Dakota Pig Pals brings youth together

Slideshow: Unique program pairs 4-H’ers and youth with disabilities to show pigs at state fair.

Kindra Gordon

October 31, 2023

6 Slides

“I see smiles and wisdom being shared,” said Adam Krause as he spoke to participants and volunteers at the second annual Pig Pals program at the South Dakota State Fair in Huron in September.

In the program, a 4-H’er assists a fellow youth with a disability in showing a pig at the fair. Krause, president of the South Dakota Pork Producers Council and a swine producer from Clear Lake, served as judge during the show.

First, a demonstration was given on how to show a pig. Then, youth participants and their 4-H partners took to the ring to guide their pig in front of the judge.

Krause credited the Pig Pals program for being a great opportunity for all involved. “It’s pretty darn cool to see,” he said of 4-H youth teaching other teens about showing a pig, and of the courage and willingness the participants had to jump in a pen with a pig and learn to do something new.

4-H’er Case Phelps of Arlington enjoyed working with the participants and teaching them how to “drive” a pig around the show ring. “It feels good to know that I’m teaching someone who may not otherwise get a chance to do this,” said Phelps, who shows pigs in 4-H.

This marked the second year the Pig Pals event has been held at the South Dakota State Fair. Five youth with disabilities participated, and about 25 4-H youth volunteered to assist.

Tina Erickson, director of membership, outreach and engagement for the South Dakota Pork Producers Council, assists in coordinating the event. “We are so honored to host this yearly event,” she said. “It is completely heartwarming to witness the teamwork showcased by the participants and 4-H volunteers.”

Erickson said some of the youth who enjoyed participating last year returned this year. “A few of the participants and their families travel a distance to participate, but the parents feel it is completely worth it when they see the smiles and enjoyment on their kids’ faces,” she said.

Sponsors of the South Dakota’s Pig Pals program include the Soth Dakota Pork Producers Council, De Smet Farm Mutual Insurance Co., Farm Credit Services of America, Pipestone Systems and Ethan Co-op Lumber.

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About the Author(s)

Kindra Gordon

Kindra Gordon grew up on a South Dakota cattle operation and graduated from South Dakota State University with degrees in range science and ag journalism. She has been writing about the beef industry for 25 years and lives near Sturgis, S.D., with her husband and family.

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