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  • Val T.

‘Bittersweet’ Nelson excels in final year of 4-H

Valley grad wins Grand Champion Heifer, Grand Champion Steer, Grand Champion Barrow


Sports Editor, RTC

Sidney Nelson, a 2024 Tippecanoe Valley grad and a 10-year 4-H member, won Champion Angus Heifer, Grand Champion Heifer, Champion Shorthorn Plus Steer and Grand Champion Steer at the Beef Show at the Fulton County 4-H Fair Tuesday. Her Champion Duroc Barrow was named Grand Champion Barrow at the Swine Show Wednesday. She also won Champion Hampshire Barrow at the Swine Show.

Sidney Nelson is saying goodbye to 4-H with a fantastic fair week.

In her 10th and final year in 4-H and with farming in her blood, she won seven awards combined at the Beef and Swine shows at the Fulton County 4-H Fair.

At the Beef Show Tuesday, she won Champion Angus Heifer, Grand Champion Heifer, Champion Shorthorn Plus Steer and Grand Champion Steer.

She followed that by winning Champion Duroc Barrow and Champion Hampshire Barrow at the Swine Show Wednesday. The Champion Duroc Barrow was later named Grand Champion Barrow.

“It’s very exciting but also very bittersweet,” Nelson said. “It’s my last year.”

Nelson said both of her parents were 10-year members of 4-H. Her grandfather is on the Fulton County Fair Board.

“We’ve always been around livestock, and we have cattle at home, so I always grew up around it,” Nelson said.

Nelson said raising cattle is a 12-month-a-year job.

“My heifer and my steer, we both got in September-ish, and they have been shown all over and are going to continue to be shown until probably November of this year, but it’s an all-year project,” Nelson said.

But this week is important as she competes with the friends she has made in the organization.

“It’s pretty important,” Nelson said. “To me, it’s one of the more important weeks just because I’ve been here for 10 years, and I want to do good for the people I know, my friends, my family, everyone around me. I’ll go to the state fair, but I’m not planning to win. I’m going to do good and have fun, but that’s not my goal to win. My goal this week was to win, and I’m glad I could do that.”

Nelson said a feed strategy needs to be determined for each animal. And you can’t take days off when implementing that strategy.

“I think it takes a lot of experience,” Nelson said. “You have to know especially what brand of feed you want to use and what end point you want them to be at. My duroc that won, this was basically his end point. But my heifer, this wasn’t her end point, and we’re still pushing for state fair for her. So it’s just depending on how much you want to feed them if you have to hold them, if you want to push them, to get them to their end point.”

Nelson also said that showmanship goes hand in hand with the physical development of her animals.

“Usually if you have a good animal, there’s usually a really good showman behind it,” Nelson said. “And I didn’t win showmanship with beef or with swine today, but I consider myself a pretty good showman. You have to at least be an experienced showman for your animals if you have good ones. Because a bad showman can make a good animal not do as well as it could.”

Asked if judges can be unpredictable, Nelson replied “very.”

“Like my mom and almost anyone in the livestock industry can say, it’s one person’s opinion on one day,” Nelson said. “Tomorrow, my barrow could be fifth overall or not even be champion. It just really depends on how they look at that day and what that judge thinks on that day. He might go and change his mind.”

She spoke of the many friends she has met through 4-H. Many of them have been her competitors this week.

“You’re competing, but iron sharpens iron,” Nelson said. “Me competing against my friends, it’s just working to make each other better.”

Nelson is a 2024 Tippecanoe Valley grad. She played volleyball and basketball there but tore both of her ACLs and broke an ankle during her athletic career. She stopped playing volleyball after the fall 2022 season. 

She plans on attending Lake Michigan College in Benton Harbor, Mich. She wants to major in sonography with plans on becoming an ultrasound tech.

“There’s the pregnancy side of it and also cardiovascular, which is organs and all that,” Nelson said. “But I want to go into general, which is pregnancy and stomach ultrasound.”

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