“This program is the epitome of youth development, education and great livestock,” said Ben Duke, the Committee Chairman of the Catch-A-Calf Program at the National Western Stock Show.
Starting in 1935, the Catch-A-Calf Program is the longest standing program at the National Western. The program pulls kids from Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska and Wyoming who catch a calf, then feed the sponsored calves to finish while simultaneously completing a record book, a public speaking project and a sponsor connection. Finally, they exhibit their project at the National Western.
“It has everything to do with turning the kids into leaders,” Duke said.
A long-term sponsor of the program, Jo Adams, along with many families, sponsors and alumni of the program share Duke’s opinion .
“Once you get involved as a sponsor, you’re hooked for life,” Adams said. “The best part about the program is that all of the kids start out with a similar project and they come back in January with a result of their hard work and dedication.”
Many families have gotten involved with the program and continued their involvement for generations.
Ed Snell, a supporter of the program, pushed his daughter, Kellie Wasinger, to exhibit a calf in the program in 1993. Today, her daughters are showing their calves in the program.
“It’s a family tradition,”Wasinger said. “It’s become something we can enjoy and learn from together.”
The Catch-A-Calf Program has touched the lives of many for 84 years. Exhibitors that get involved in the project stay involved by becoming sponsors and mentors for years after their own project is complete.
“The calf is a part, but not the big part,” Snell said. “It’s about the experience, education and connections made as a whole.”