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Our Youth -- ‘They’ll learn much more than I’ll ever know’

In the lyrics of “What a Wonderful Word,” musical icon Louis Armstrong croons “They’ll learn much more than I’ll ever know.” Armstrong was referring to our youth.

That was sang in 1968, in some cases years before even the birth of the parents of the youth showing livestock at the agricultural center.

Now in 2017, technological advancements in agriculture has changed the production of livestock through the elements of science.

But some elements remain still true today.

Without youth, there is no future.

A constant during the 66 years of the Screven County Livestock Festival is having the community’s children gain a deeper respect for the responsibility of raising livestock and the entire family bonds together closer through the process.

Children have the opportunity to start their livestock rearing education as adults detail how the animals must be regularly fed, groomed and walked so those animals will be primed and ready for their time in the ring for the shows.

For being in just fourth grade, Nathan Mock takes his showing of livestock rather seriously.

The evidence is visible in the number of times you see his name listed as an exhibitor for the shows on April 4, 5 and 6.

Mock will show market swine on April 4; a goat on April 5; and lamb, beef heifer and steer on April 5.

He said he enjoys showing cows the most.

“That is the only thing I have won first place with,” Mock said with smile.

Mock has won showmanship twice within the year -- in Statesboro and Savannah. He also has won in Statesboro grand champion with his steer.

“I have learned how to show. I have learned how to brush cows and do it every day,” said Mock, who also has memorized his animals’ food.

So what does he like the most?

“Half spending time with friends and half spending prize money,” Mock said.

Nathan’s sister Tanna Mock is in first grade. She will exhibit in the pig show, goat show and lamb show.

Tanna won a belt buckle in the first year she showed pre-k.

She said she likes the money and belt buckles.

While some may put their buckle up until they choose to wear it during another showmanship competition, Tanna said she will wear hers when she is going out to eat.

“I do have fun washing my animals,” said Tanna, who admitted she too gets wet during the bathing.

Aliyah Tankersley has been showing livestock for seven years. She has shown goats, lambs and cows -- but not pigs.

“I don’t like getting my shoes dirty,” she said as she noted that pigs can be messy.

This year Tankersley will show in the beef heifer show on April 6.

Of note this year, Tankersley is accomplishing something no one else is doing.

She is the only senior exhibiting livestock on any of the nights. She also is the only senior in the festival pageant.

Tankersley said over the years there have been students in the grade above her and below her who have shown, but routinely none in her grade.

Last year Tankersley was in the pageant and showed livestock too. It takes time management to handle doing that.

“You just have to learn how to juggle things,” said Tankersley, who likes the cows the most because of their personalities.

She has assisted younger youth in showing and wants to continue to do thatk after she grautes.

“You make a lot o fnew firends showing,” she said.

After graduation, Tankersley plans to attend Augusta State University where she will pursue her career as a trauma nurse.