Marshall Allison: 4-H has helped put him on the road to success

GEORGETOWN, Pa. —  A young man who is succeeding in the show ring and classroom, says 4-H helped him achieve it.

Marshall Allison, 19, started showing steers at age 8 and continues to show in college through the Junior Shorthorn Association.

The start

Allison started showing in the Beaver County Stockmen Club in the Hookstown Fair after moving from Monaca, Pa., to a farm his parents established.

Allison’s grandparents had raised 200 head of dairy and 100 head of beef cattle and he knew he wanted to raise cattle as well.

“It was our family history. It just made sense to me,” said Allison. “It seemed like a good fit.”

Allison said 4-H started him on his way to success. He said he gained friends through the show ring, and found opportunities that presented themselves through 4-H.

“I probably wouldn’t have gotten involved in the Junior Shorthorn Association if it hadn’t been for 4-H,” said Allison.

He added that young people have to start at the lower level and work their way up the ladder to gain more opportunities.

Work ethic

Allison said his showing experience in 4-H helped him to develop a strong work ethic. He said that he learned quickly that showing his cattle had to start at home. The preparation had to be done before the show.

“You have to ensure you have hair to work with before the show,” said Allison.

In addition, Allison said he had to constantly work with his animals so they knew what to expect in the show ring, and were used to the show stick, for example, before they were in front of judges.

Encouragement

Allison said when it came to maintenance of the cattle herd health, he was lucky because his father encouraged him.

“When Dad found out I had an interest in becoming a veterinarian, he pushed me to administer most the shots on the farm, which helped my interest in veterinary medicine,” Allison said.

He said his time in 4-H helped him mature by giving him responsibilities and having goals.

“You have to step out of your comfort zone and by doing that, it gives you other opportunities,” said Allison.

“You have to step out of your comfort zone and by doing that, it gives you other opportunities,” said Allison.

Although, Allison is not showing this year in 4-H, he will still be at active at this year’s Hookstown Fair, serving as a mentor for 4-H steer exhibitors.

Transition

His family’s farm is in a big transition as the family, Michael and Sharon Allison, prepares for a move to Ohioville. Unfortunately, it means that Allison won’t be taking breeding stock to show at the fair either. The family’s farm was bought out by a power company. The Allisons are in the process of building barns and are about to start construction on a house at the new location. In addition, Allison has to move back to Penn State University, the day after the fair ends.

“I’ll be too busy helping others to miss it,” said Allison.

Tradition

However, Allison’s brother, Landon, 15, will be showing his two steers at the fair this year.

By showing at the 4-H level, Allison gained confidence to show in the Junior Shorthorn Association events.

He has participated in the Junior Shorthorn National Show at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, the North American International Livestock Exposition in Louisville, Ky., the National Western Stock Show in Denver and the Keystone International Livestock Exposition in Harrisburg, Pa. In addition, he has showed at various point shows and has showed steers at the Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg.

Opportunities

Allison said the Junior Shorthorn Association has also helped him grow into a young adult. He is still involved in the association and is now the public relations officer for the association, which means he is responsible for the association’s Facebook page and doing a lot of writing in order to get the news out about the group. Allison said it gives him different opportunities to attend conferences, shows and helps him to meet people from across the U.S. and participate in conferences.

Ireland

Another learning chance Allison has received as a part of his participation in the Junior Shorthorn Association was the chance to show a Shorthorn in Ireland. As part of a graduation present, Allison traveled to Ireland, and the association helped him locate a farmer who would be showing in the Tallimore Show, a national livestock show that was occurring while he was there.

Allison said the show gave him a chance to look at a livestock show through someone else’s eyes. It is open acreage with tents and cattle gates. Another difference was that animals are shown in their natural state. He said there is very limited clipping.

“They are taking the animals into the show ring after cleaning them up and they are not fitted,” said Allison.

He said the opportunity made him realize that in Ireland it’s not about showmanship, but it’s more about the cattle.

Allison said he also visited some Shorthorn farms while in Ireland and saw a farming style that is different from in the U.S., and different cattle genetics.

The future

Allison said he plans to stay involved in the 4-H program, and become a volunteer leader.

“I want to participate in some way because that’s where I started,” said Allison.

In the meantime, he has two years left to show and participate in the Junior Shorthorn Association and will continue to develop his leadership skills by participating in the Key Conference held by the Junior Shorthorn Association.

About the Author

Kristy Foster Seachrist lives in Columbiana County raising sheep and horses. She earned her degree from Youngstown State University and has worked in both print and broadcast journalism. You can follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/fosterk96. More Stories by Kristy Foster Seachrist

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