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Monday, October 3, 2011

Herds of Hope


As I've mentioned on another blog, I've been working as a livestock assistant at the Royal Melbourne Show for the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria. Thus far, I've scooped a lot of manure and answered the phone. It hasn't been too strenuous.

The breeding cattle show has been going on all week, so we've been fielding frantic phone calls, setting up panels, taking down panels, preparing exhibitor packets, shoveling manure etc. While doing some paperwork stuff I found a informational pamphlet for Herds of Hope.
Herds of Hope is a fundraising initiative for the Ronald McDonald House (RMHC) in Australia. If an exhibitor chooses to do so, the proceeds of selling her show steer or lamb will be donated directly to the RMHC. The program started in December 2010 so it's fairly new but has been utilized at quite a few shows in Australia. Charities like RMHC usually focus on collections in urban areas but this is a great way to reach out to rural populations and get them involved.

Additionally, Herds of Hope is sponsored by the Australian Beef Industry Foundation, Cargill Beef Australia, Elders Rural Services, MAC, Allflex Australia, Rural Press and McDonald’s. So not only can individuals get involved, but larger corporations are also stretching their financial legs and stepping up to the plate.

The important thing to point out here is that the livestock showing industry is not even in the same universe as the United States show industry. For example, a fellow livestock assistant was bragging about how, last year, the top steer sold for $7,000 at the sale. Now, I am not turning my nose up at $7,000 because I'm a broke, newly married grad student in another country living off of a stipend. However, $7,000 is just a drop in the bucket compared to how much money the champion steer at the National Western Stock Show would bring. Hell, the Grand Champion Barrow at the Ohio State Fair brought $41,000. Can you imagine how much money would be raised for charities if each exhibitor pledged just 1% of their sale income?

Before you start criticizing me for recommending that 4-H kids donate their hard earned cash willy nilly, remember that I showed for 13 years, so I know the gratification of a sale check. I understand that livestock are expensive to buy, care for, groom and feed. Throw that in the mix with the cost of traveling to shows, entry fees, hotels and food - it's not a cheap hobby.

I think that Herds of Hope is a great program here in Australia and that a similar program in the states could be very successful. Does anyone know of a similar program that I've accidentally overlooked?
Just some food for thought.

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

p.s. - in case you were wondering, that's a Murray Grey bull on that poster. They're one of my favorite breeds of cattle, btw.


2 comments:

  1. At the NAILE,a percentage (which ended up being $5,000 in my case) goes to the Kentucky Blessing in a Backpack program that sends kids in need home with food over the weekend. Along with the cash, the meat from the Grand Champion steer is also donated to this really neat charity. Huge portions of American Royal Junior Premium Livestock Auction checks go to local KC charities like the Little Sisters of the Poor, the Hope House and even the RMHC. At Houston you see that the Grand Champion steer sales for upwards of $300,000. The exhibitor receives less than 30% of that. The sum returns to the scholarship fund for inner city and agriculture kids. I am confident similar situations occur at the other national shows in the US, the first two are just examples of premium sales I have had personal experience with and then a friend of mine works at Houston.

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  2. Tera,

    Thanks for the info. Hyatt and I had no idea that there were these types of programs. I know that at the Ohio State Fair, there is a maximum amount of the sale premium that the exhibitor gets to keep and the rest is donated to the state's 4-H scholarship fund and other funds to keep the program running. Thanks!

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