Little American Royal provides participants break from campus routine

Trowbridge Livestock Center on the University of Missouri campus was busier than ever in the week leading up to the Little American Royal. Commotion spread throughout the facility as participants fed, bathed and watered their animals to prepare for the final show. Soft moos, squealing pigs and laughter filled the complex.

Block and Bridle, which is considered the original premier animal science club at Mizzou, held the Little American Royal — an event to mimic the American Royal — on Nov. 10, 2018. Like the American Royal, there’s a lot going on during the week leading up to the event.

On Monday, Nov. 5, the LAR festivities began. Activities leading up to the show included exhibitor meetings, a quiz bowl, barnyard olympics, an animal handling workshop and a game night. Activities are focused on educating the participants about their animals in a fun manner.

In the Little American Royal, the participants show one of the six species: pigs, dairy cattle, sheep, horses, goats or beef cattle.

MU student Justin Belew served as a Block and Bridle beef species co-chair for the event. He worked with the other co-chair to make sure the animals were ready leading up to LAR.

“We split kids up in the things they are not familiar with by having them list their top picks as well as experience levels so we can put them in species category they are not as familiar with, but something that they are comfortable with, so participants learn something new,” Belew said.

Belew said LAR participants often have a variety of different experience levels, and that is why the LAR can be considered a large advocacy effort. For students who have never had the opportunity to show before or who may not have grown up in production agriculture, LAR is a good way to spread the word.

“When participants learn, they tell their friends the things they got to do during the week, and then the friends start asking questions, and then it turns in a positive experience for everyone to learn about agriculture,” Belew said.

Erica Gilmore, a freshman agribusiness student, chose to show a pig during the LAR.

“This was the first time I have ever worked with a pig,” Gilmore said.  “As far as showing goes, I have never shown anything except for a ham which is obviously not an alive breathing animal.”

Gilmore said that she really enjoyed the overall experience from learning about the hog’s nature and how to care for it, to playing with and bathing the hogs in the barn.

“It is a chance to take a break from your school work,” Gilmore said. “Instead of just going from class to a study room, you get the chance to go to the barn and work with your animal, making campus feel a lot more like home.”

Katelyn Robinson, another freshman student and LAR participant, said she felt especially at home during the week of LAR. Robinson has been showing swine and only swine since she was about 3 years old. For LAR, she decided she wanted to continue showing swine.

On the day of the show, Robinson was fortunate enough to win the showman class for the swine species, which automatically entered her into the round robin. This is where individuals are required to show all species to determine the top showman.

To prepare all participants for the champion showman round robin, all participants were required to attend the animal handling workshop on Thursday to learn to work with different species.

“It was a good experience to get out of my comfort zone and show other species besides swine, in the round robin,” Robinson said. “I was originally very nervous.”

Robinson said she enjoyed the overall experience. Instead of returning as a participant next year, however, she hopes to return as a chair or co-chair to help others have the same valuable experience.

Participation in LAR is available to all CAFNR students. To register students fill out a short application in the fall that details their experience. While students do not have to be a Block and Bridle member to participate, the club accepts new memberships year round.

Hannah Persell

About the Author Hannah Persell

Hey, everybody! My name is Hannah Persell and I am excited to begin my first semester here at the University of Missouri. I am majoring in agribusiness management with an emphasis in sales and communications. Unlike some, I didn’t know I wanted to become a tiger until after high school graduation. The thought of joining the Mizzou family was actually intimidating for a small-town girl like me. I was raised in rural northwest Missouri and graduated this year from Trenton High School. Growing up in a rural area, my love for the agricultural industry began at a young age. The more that I involve the general public in agricultural discussions, the more I learn about the large disconnect our industry faces. Agriculture is not only a huge part of my life, but rather, of everyone’s. It is the roof over our heads, the food on our plate and the clothes that we wear. For that reason, I am looking forward to learning how to communicate more effectively and how to become a better advocate for the agricultural industry as I pursue my career.