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Western Junior marks 81 years, honors long time supporters


News Staff - October 12, 2018

RAPID CITY, SD – The barns are full on the Central States Fairgrounds as the 81st annual Western Junior Livestock Show and Sale  and the 56th annual Western Family Consumer Science Show continues through the weekend in Rapid City.

The show was developed as a 4-H youth show to serve as a showcase for the livestock industry from this area and has since grown to include exhibitors from around a five state region.

Organized in 1937, the first show included only the feeder calf project but since that time the show has grown to include sheep, swine, dairy, goats and other projects relating to livestock production.

This year’s WJLS honorees include Donna Staben, Wall, SD, Maurice Lemke, Dupree, SD and Marshall Ringling and Scott Kirsch of Platte Livestock, Platte, SD.

The livestock market sale that takes place Saturday, October 13, 2018 is the culmination of a year’s worth of work on a
4-Her’s part as their animals go through the sale ring.  Feeder heifer and steer calves and junior heifer calves sell at 2:00pm.  That’s followed by market swine, sheep, goats and live futurity sale. “Folks can buy quality hamburger, roast and steaks to put on their dinner tables,” observes long-time show treasurer, Marv Williams.  “There are volunteers ready to help folks make a purchase and we’ve got local processing plants ready to take delivery right there at the sale.” 

Williams reminds the public the sale is open to everyone and encourages people to consider buying from 4-H kids to fill their freezers.

Following are excerpts on the honorees from the WJLS premium book published annually.

Donna Staben: The Western Junior Livestock Show (WJLS) Board of Directors is pleased to honor Donna Staben for her continued dedication to the South Dakota 4-H program.  For well over 50 years, Staben has been living out her passion for agriculture.

In 1954, Staben’s father started a 4-H program just north of Wall, SD.  It was during this time that her interest in showing livestock peaked.  As a young girl she began her journey showing sheep and calves.  Post graduation, she continued her involvement with the program by offering assistance and support to her father’s 4-H group.

Her family’s love for livestock and a “cowboy way of life” did not stop after Staben.  Her two daughters followed in her footsteps.  Both of them participated in 4-H showing calves and sheep.

As a member of the Western Junior Board for over 20 years, Staben still finds joy in every show, in every contestant’s success, and in every smile.  The past six years she has been one of the members to hand out the participants awards.  “It is quite an honor to see how happy they are when they win an award, and their hard work pays off,” she noted.

As a strong believer in the benefits and life skills that come from the 4-H program, Staben offers a piece of advice to all the young who are passionate about livestock.  “Start showing and judging livestock as soon as you can.  You will become equipped with the knowledge you need to have your own herd.”

After so many years of dedication, Staben is humbled to be nominated as an honoree for the 2018 WJLS.  Just like any other year, she looks forward to this year’s “4-H family affair.”

Maurice Lemke: Folks who have been to the Western Junior Livestock Show will probably be able to tell you they know who Maurice Lemke is, have seen him in the ring assisting, or could at least recognize his one-of-a-kind announcer’s voice.  The WJLS Board of Directors has chosen to honor Lemke for his many years of commitment and volunteer work.

Lemke grew up with the 4-H experience on a ranch just southwest of Eagle Butte, SD.  His father was a man of many talents; farmer, rancher, livestock feeder and horse trainer.  Lemke’s mother was inducted into the South Dakota State University Hall of Fame for her leadership roles in the 4-H program.

As a young cowboy, Lemke graduated from elementary grades while at the Soliday country school.  He then attended Dupree High School and later went to college at South Dakota State University and Montana State University. He holds a double major in Animal Science and Economics and completed his Masters in Ruminant Nutrition.

Lemke marked 25 years with the Extension Service in 1986 at which time he began his involvement in the 4-H program as a County 4-H Project Leader, livestock educator and volunteer. He has worn many different hats at WJLS, beginning as a show ring assistant and later as a director and show announcer.  He notes serving as President of the organizations as a career and personal highlight.

Health issues have sidelined his volunteer work but not the memories.  “I had the opportunity to meet and work with many great people and families. It’s such an honor to be recognized by this organization. I just wanted to do what I could – to the best of my ability – to better the show. 

He credits one of WJLS long-time supporters, Lyndell Peterson, as mentoring him in Extension and the WJLS organization and says, “My advice to young people in agriculture is to further your education and become a part of such opportunities as the Western Junior.  It will all be to your benefit.”

Platte Livestock: Behind the scenes of every great WJLS there are two men who bring quality livestock year after year; Marshall Ringling, Platte, SD, and his business partner Scott Kirsch, White Lake, SD.  The WJLS board of directors is recognizing both this year for continually providing the best livestock then can for the kids.

Ringling and Kirsch were born and raised on their family farms and continue today in the business.  Together, the two own and operate the sale barn in Platte.

A shared sense of responsibility to and for the agricultural industry led them to begin supporting 4-H kids and donating livestock.  Both believe the younger generation of 4-H youth should be given the resources they need to expand their knowledge and continue in agriculture

 “It’s quite an honor and privilege to receive such recognition,” says Ringling.  “We look at providing the WJLS with livestock as a great opportunity to give back to the kids who work so hard through the 4-H program all year long.  They truly deserve it.”

He adds, “This is a rewarding career.  There’s a lot of hard work and commitment required but it’s very rewarding.”



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