ation or business. They serve as represen- tatives and to be effective, they must exhibit leadership, expe- rience, teamwork and composure.
4-H fosters these traits in young people through programs like the Wyoming State 4-H Ag Ambassador Team. Formed two years ago, the Ag Ambassador Team is a body of “senior” 4-H members ages 14 through 18 selected by a committee, said Dawn Sanchez, Wyoming 4-H specialist for animal proj- ects at the state office in Laramie.
Applicants submit a lengthy form and present themselves for formal interviews in front of Sanchez and a selection panel. The panel includes former 4-H members that are involved in meat and livestock judging teams at college.
The panel chooses the top applicants based on leadership abilities, teamwork, experience teaching younger members and achievements in livestock showing, said Sanchez.
Ag Ambassadors “help promote agriculture” in Wyoming and serve as mentors to younger or new 4-H members working on livestock projects, Sanchez added. This includes assisting with state showmanship camps, maintaining a blog about live- stock showing and completing an agriculture-related commu- nity project.
This April, the panel picked juniors Aspyn Green and Zoe Griffin to represent Pinedale on the Ag Ambassador Team.
Green and Griffin entered the world of livestock showing at a young age.
Pinedale High School junior Aspyn Green with her prize-winning lamb at the Denver National Western Stock Show in January.
“When I was 8, my dad brought some pigs home one day and said, ‘Hey, you’re going to do 4-H and it’s going to be fun,’” Griffin said. “And boy was it fun and boy did it change my life.”
Green also followed in her father’s footsteps and started her 4-H career with pigs.
“I love pigs to death,” she said. “I’ve shown them since I was 8. They have always been my go-to animal.”
Green moved into showing cattle after winning a calf in a raffle through her local club, the Wind River 4-H Masters. A few years later, she added goats to the list. Last year, Green gave lambs a try.
“Lambs weren’t my favorite at the beginning,” she said. “My Ag teacher, Colby Hales, pushed me to do it and helped me get started and now I absolutely love lambs.”
Green entered her lamb for the first time at the Sublette County Fair last year and won Reserve Grand Champion in Showmanship and the opportunity to “represent my FFA Chapter at the State Fair.”
This January, Green competed at the Denver National West- ern Stock Show. Green, her lamb and family barely made it. Nasty winter weather turned the seven-hour journey into a 14- hour ordeal.
Twenty contestants from across the country entered the ring in Green’s class. One by one, the judge eliminated competitors until Green and several others were left. Green placed at her first national show.
Four years ago, Griffin branched out from swine to show goats and added cattle two years later.
Griffin entered her goats and pigs in the Northern Interna- tional Livestock Exposition in Billings, Mont., and the Ameri- can Royal Livestock Show in Kansas City, Mo.
Griffin took a heifer to the National Western Stock Show in Denver, won her class and showed in the final drive. In Decem- ber, Griffin competed at the Arizona National Livestock Show in Phoenix for the second time.
“I won my class with my goat and won my entire division and got to show in the final drive with my spot barrow (pig).”
Getting to the national level of showmanship involves a sig- nificant time commitment. Months of work go into training each animal and competitors spend hours carefully prepping their livestock for the ring.
“It’s like people – you have your daily routine to get ready for the day,” Green said. “This is the same for livestock. You have to wash them, clip them, get all their hair blended to- gether and make the not-as-good areas look better.”
Griffin conducted her interview from her barn.
“I’m working on washing my cattle today,” she said. “I have six goats, six pigs and three calves in the barn right now – some are shared projects with my brother. Last summer, I spent close to seven hours a day in the barn and I intend to spend more time this summer because I have more animals. Even though it’s a ton of hard work, I love all of it.”
Green spends four to six hours per day with her animals at the beginning of the training process.
“I like to get (the livestock) used to me so they learn to trust me and know that I’m not there to hurt them – I’m there to be their friend,” she said. “Later in the training process, I take them on 30- to 45-minute walks twice a day and have bond- ing time in between so it’s not work, work, work all the time. They’re animals. They have lives too.”
Leadership is a crucial element in the Ag Ambassador pro- gram. Green and Griffin agreed that the term does not simply mean telling others what to do.
“I think that in order to be a leader, you need to be someone
Pinedale High School junior Zoe Griffin with her champion spot barrow at the 2019 Arizona National Livestock Show in Phoenix, Ariz., in December.
who can step up to the challenge, to be able to help anyone with anything that they need,” said Green. She added that a good leader is not afraid to ask questions to find a solution.
In addition to her role in 4-H, Green is secretary on the FFA’s officer team. Last year, the FFA stock judging team placed fifth at the State Convention at Cheyenne.
“This was the first time the Pinedale FFA had been recog- nized in 35 years,” Green said. “Being able to go up and walk across the stage to receive the award was really cool.”
Griffin is president of the FFA officer team and serves as president of her 4-H club.
“All those leadership roles really taught me about what it means to be a leader and how important it is to be a team player when you are a leader,” she said. “When you’re working with a team, it’s important to make sure that each person is doing their fair share. A leader isn’t someone who just sits there and barks orders. It’s somebody who can work with others and provide guidance.”
Green and Griffin hope to turn their passion for animals into careers as veterinarians. Green plans to start at Casper College and compete on the livestock judging team.
“I would absolutely love if I could become a vet one day,” Green said. “That is the career that I have always wanted since I was a little girl. I love helping the vets when they’re doctoring our animals.”
Griffin’s dream is attending vet school at University of Cal- ifornia, Davis.
“The idea of being able to help animals that are in need and are sick, I think that’s very interesting and exciting,” she said. “The field has always spoken to me.”