Awards from the 2017 New Hampshire 4-H Livestock Auction

Many hands make light work — that was one of the many lessons that 4-H member Hayden Gardener learned thanks to the 2017 4-H Livestock Auction. This year's event took place on Sept. 10 at the Hillsborough County Agricultural Fair in New Boston, where 11 4-H members from across the state gathered to sell 17 meat goats, lamb, and swine that they raised themselves.

Hayden, 14, and his sister, Lauren, 12, both participated in this year's auction. This was their second year taking part in the event and both raised and sold meat goats. They're both members of the Nanny Berry Lane 4-H Goat Club, the Merrimack County 4-H Swine Club, the Rolling Bone 4-H Dog Club and the Millville 4-H Club.

Hayden credits the auction's success to a team effort from 4-H members, staff, volunteers, buyers and others who make the event possible. "I've learned from the auction that many hands make light work, and everything runs very smoothly if everyone does their part," he says.

NH 4-H members participate in the 2017 Livestock Auction

Several 4-H members donated their proceeds from the sales to a favorite charity. The sale of other animals benefited the NH Food Bank.

Hayden's auction profits will be going to the War Dog Foundation, an organization that supports military dogs and their handlers who are overseas by providing needed items like health products and dog treats.

"I chose this organization because last year, a friend and I gathered items for the War Dog Foundation and we researched what they do as part of our 4-H My Dog project. My uncle and other relatives are in the military, and I wanted to do something for those who protect our country — both the two-legged and four-legged soldiers," he says.

Lauren will donate her auction proceeds to the Cancer Research Institute in honor of her best friend who contracted brain cancer and passed away a year and a half ago. "We had danced together since we were four years old and I wanted to do something in remembrance of her," Lauren says.

4-H-ers who raise and bring their animals to auction gain important skills. Raising livestock is, on its own, a challenging process. Finding and talking to buyers and selling the animals requires skills like networking, marketing and financial literacy. And that’s all in addition to the often difficult task of letting go of an animal that many 4-H-ers have often grown close to.

"This experience is about learning how to care for, feed and train an animal for optimal health and growth," says Mary Davis, 4-H Animal & Agricultural Science program coordinator and event coordinator. "It's about keeping good records and tracking what works and does not work for your animal and your situation."

A 4-H member presents her animal on the auction block at the 2017 Livestock Auction

Guy Larochelle is a long-time auction volunteer and a member of this year's auction committee. He was a 4-H member as a child and last year, his daughter participated in the auction. "I'm just trying to give back and offer my support and guidance to the kids who need it and to try and offer some help where it's needed," he says. "This year's auction was very successful. We got some good prices, every child sold their animals and they had some good animals to sell, and there were some good projects."

Lauren Gardner is already looking forward to future auctions. She hopes that more buyers come to the auction. Even if they’re not interested in using the animals for meat, “they could donate it to a food pantry. It would be a win for everyone involved,” she says.