According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, between the year 2010 and 2020, more jobs will be available in agricultural and food systems, renewable energy and the environment than qualified graduates to fill them.

And between 2010 and 2020, the U.S. economy will generate an estimated 54,400 annual openings in agricultural, food and renewable natural resources fields.

Individuals with baccalaureate or higher degrees in food, renewable energy and environmental specialties will be in demand. Our nation’s and our world’s populations are growing at an ever increasing rate. It will take a group of educated and dedicated young people to feed our nation in the near future.

This is one of the many reasons that the 4-H program offers such agricultural projects as animal science. Many young people and parents alike feel that they cannot be involved in such projects as 4-H animal science because they have limitations on space, time and other resources. This simply is not true.

Any young person can learn about animal science through 4-H in such educational programs as judging, Skillathon and Quiz Bowl.

Livestock judging is the evaluation of an animal’s characteristics and making a comparison to other animals and the ideal standard of that particular class. It encourages 4-H’ers to learn modern livestock evaluation techniques, to practice decision making skills and to select livestock based on a defined production purpose.

Livestock Skillathon contests provide a valuable educational experience for youth. It provides a framework for them to learn a variety of topics related to the production and management of beef cattle, meat goats, sheep and swine.

Participants in these events will learn about different breeds of livestock; external parts of livestock; skeletal anatomy of livestock; feedstuffs used in livestock diets; equipment used in raising and showing livestock and in processing meat; wholesale and retail cuts of meat derived from livestock; expected progeny differences; common calculations used to measure animal performance and profitability;, and judging hay, meats and performance classes of livestock.

Livestock QuizBowl is a quiz competition where all the questions are about beef, sheep, swine and meat goat topics. Students use a buzzer in order to answer the questions. Teams compete in a double-elimination format by giving oral answers to questions posed by a moderator.

These three opportunities — as well as learning to raise such things as poultry, pigs, sheep, goats, beef cattle, horses, rabbits, etc. — will be discussed at this year’s Etowah County 4-H Animal Project Open House. Feel free to come by the Extension Office auditorium from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday to talk to agents about getting youth ages 9-18 signed up and started.

The event is come and go as you please. Contact the Extension Office with any questions.

Upcoming Extension Programs:

Youth Etiquette Workshop, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Nov. 9 at the Extension Office; cost is $15 and includes a meal; call the Extension Office to register.

Etowah County Cattlemen’s Field Day and 4-H/FFA Steer and Heifer Show, 10 a.m. Nov. 11 at Fly Away Farms in Duck Springs, free.

For more information on this topic and many others, contact the Etowah County Extension Office, 256-547-7936 or 3200 A W. Meighan Blvd., Gadsden. Amy Burgess is extension coordinator for the Etowah County Extension Office.