Thoughts From The Farm: Celebrating National 4-H Week With 4-H Exhibitor Wyatt Braithwaite

Wyatt Braithwaite is presented with his awards at the New Mexico Fair for Senior Showmanship, 3rd in Class 1 for Blackface Lambs, 6th in Class 2 for Blackface Lambs and 1st in Class 3 Blackface Lambs. Courtesy photo

Wyatt Braithwaite receives the Fifth Overall Award for his Market Lamb at the Eastern New Mexico State Fair this week in Roswell. He was also named the Division 1 champion. Courtesy photo


National 4-H week is October 2-8 this year and is tied to opening enrollment for 4-H for new and returning members.  4-H is a great organization and helps kids learn about anything from art and science to livestock.  As we celebrate National 4-H week, I find myself thankful to know so many wonderful 4-H kids.  I have been enjoying watching and working with 4-H livestock youth exhibitors in Rio Arriba County since 1999.  In that time frame, I have watched a lot of kids wash show steers, brace lambs, and chase goats.  Many have grown up and gone on to do other things but watching them all learn is truly one of my favorite activities.  Like anything, there are always a few that just catch your eye because of how skilled they are. 

At the Rio Arriba County Fair in 2017, a young, first-time showman won the overall showmanship competition in lambs.  That is relatively unheard of, because experience is key in showing, and lambs take a lot to learn.  Showmanship is where the judge evaluates how the youth exhibitor shows their animal, different from the market and breeding classes where the animal is being evaluated.  Interested by the impressive work in the showring, I visited with the youngster’s dad, Kevin, and asked where he had been showing before.  I want you all to know my sheer shock when he explained that his young son Wyatt Braithwaite had been interested in it, and that this was his first year showing.  He had been watching YouTube videos and went to one clinic.  He had started working with his mentor Nick Hall, but he had really just spent hours watching videos and practicing at home.  I will add, I spend a lot of time watching YouTube videos on how to fix the tractor, and I am going to tell you, I have not absorbed it at one hundredth of the level that Wyatt did in the showring that first year! 

Wyatt is one of those examples of hard work and passion in 4-H that I love to talk about.  He has been showing lambs now for six years.  He is a member of Kountry Kids 4-H Club and is a junior in high school.  His parents, Kevin and Amanda, were not in 4-H but both had agricultural backgrounds and they hoped he would learn confidence and communication skills, along with sportsmanship and develop a sense of community.  They tell me he always talked about showing animals and they felt like 4-H was a great organization to teach him and put him in the right place to learn what he was interested in.  Wyatt says he always loved working with animals and from a young age loved going to the livestock barns during the NM State Fair.  He was impressed by everyone having their animals so well trained and says he “wanted to be one of those kids.”  He says that that winning that first showmanship contest is still one of his most precious memories.

From that first county fair show to competing this week at the Eastern New Mexico State Fair, and a lot of local, regional and national shows in between, Wyatt has continued to work hard and absorb all of what it takes to excel.  I visited with the Rio Arriba County Fair Association chairman, Amy Garcia, about Wyatt.  She says no matter what he projects he is working on; he always gives it his best.
“He is one talented showman, no matter what species!  One of the most characteristic traits about Wyatt is his positivity.  He helps others and is a true leader!” she said.

Back to that passion that I like about 4-H.  4-H really does give kids a place to shine and work hard.  While Wyatt showed his lambs at the Eastern New Mexico State Fair in Roswell this week, he was the division one champion, and fifth lamb overall.  Earlier, at the New Mexico State Fair, he was recognized as the outstanding senior showman.  I asked Wyatt what he would tell anyone new to 4-H .

“Dreams don’t work unless you do.  Never give up, and always try your hardest,” he said.

Keep dreaming and working, Wyatt.  Your work ethic is so much fun to watch and we know you will continue to make a name for yourself as a livestock exhibitor. If you are interested in 4-H, please contact the Rio Arriba or Los Alamos County Extension offices. The 4-H motto is, “To Make The Best Better” and I sure see that from my perch!  Happy National 4-H week to all of us who love 4-H and see the good things that come from such a diverse youth program.