Program geared for So. Md. youth
HUGHESVILLE, Md. (Feb. 13, 2018) — Launched for its second year in late January, the Southern Maryland Meats Junior Membership program makes way for youth to participate in the Southern Maryland Meats marketing effort and hone their animal husbandry and business skills.
The program is designed to give youth a marketing and educational perspective for raising livestock in line with growing consumer demand for locally produced meat products.
“Anything we do we want to get the youth involved. They’re going to be the future of whatever we’re going to be doing in agriculture,” said Eddie Bowling, a Charles County farmer and chairman of Southern Maryland Meats.
Funded by the Southern Maryland Agriculture Development Commission, the program is open to youth age 8 to 21 who are a resident in any of the five Southern Maryland counties. Eligible livestock include beef, sheep, hogs, goats, poultry and rabbits.
Like the 46 regular members of the Southern Maryland Meats program, junior members pledge to adhere to certain raising and quality standards for feed and humane care.
Participants also receive free promotional materials to help promote their animals and the program during the county fair show season and livestock auctions to educate the public on how their animals are raised. Focusing on the business-side of raising livestock is also a key component of the program.
Participants who complete the program, which includes a final essay detailing the experience, earn an award of $100.
“It goes a long way to a 12- or 13-year old kid,” Bowling said of the award.
He added that the essays the youths turned in were impressive.
“They were fantastic,” he said. “The kids were rather enthused.”
In its first year, the program had 15 participants and program organizers said with a year behind them and more word-of-mouth spreading, the hope to see more junior members this year.
“We want anybody that has an interest in livestock to get into this,” said Bowling.
Production standards in the Southern Maryland Meats program include no use of growth implants, only using antibiotics when medically necessary and correct use of terms in product labeling according to the program’s definitions. Individual species each have additional husbandry standards.
Jacob Bowen, 15, said with his family’s farm, Prosperity Acres, in Sunderland, Md., already a member of Southern Maryland Meats, he was used to following the animal care standards for his beef and goat herds so for him, gaining more marketing skills was the biggest benefit.
Having a sign and more promotional materials for the junior member program was helpful in connecting with the public and potential buyers and fairs and shows.
“I love to be able to teach people about agriculture,” he said.
“Anywhere we go this year, he can put that sign up and be a starting point for people to ask him about his cattle and how he raised them,” said Jacob’s mother Mary Bowen. “It’s just a way from him to teach people and it’s more opportunities for him to interact with customers.”
Katie Burroughs, 19, has raised livestock since she was seven, starting with chickens and hogs.
“From there I went to sheep and goats and then cows,” she said. Last year, while also serving as Miss Calvert County Farm Bureau, she chose to participate in the program with an Angus steer she raised from December to September when she sold the animal at he Calvert County Livestock Auction.
“I read the rules and I said, “That’s easy enough so why not?’” Burroughs said but added learning more details on accurate labeling and what certain terms meant was helpful in relaying the message to customers.
“It definitely helped me sell my meat to customers,” she said.
Applications to participate in the Junior Membership Program must be received by May 1 for all livestock.
To apply, visit the “News and Announcements” page at smadc.com to find the application form. For questions about the junior member contact Craig Sewell, SMM Marketing and Livestock Specialist at 301-274-1922, ext. 1, or by e-mail at email@example.com.
1-800-634-5021 410-822-3965 Fax- 410-822-5068
P.O. Box 2026 Easton, MD 21601-8925