An Exploratory Study of Adult Interactions among Youth Livestock Exhibitors

Abby N Johnson, Purdue University


Livestock projects enable youth to build valuable life skills while growing their knowledge in a livestock animal species by competing against other livestock exhibitors. Traditionally, livestock projects are meant to provide youth exhibitors with learning experiences through its competitive nature and through the cooperation with adults. The adults that youth work with in a livestock project could be a parent, show jock, or 4-H volunteer. While youth-adult interactions in a livestock project are intended to provide positive exhibition experiences for youth, youth-adult interactions can also shape the way youth view competition in their livestock project, and impact the skills that are learned or developed. The purpose of this study was to describe and explain factors that predict youth livestock exhibitors’ perceptions of life skill development informed by their livestock exhibition experiences, youth-adult interactions regarding livestock knowledge, views of competition, and livestock exhibition motives. The population for this study were junior high and high school students ( N=159) that were enrolled in an agricultural education course and that also exhibited a beef, sheep, swine, or goat project. Quantitative data was collected using the Youth Livestock Exhibition Experiences Survey which included items related to participants’ livestock exhibition experiences, sources of livestock knowledge, views of competition, livestock exhibition motives and life skills. Descriptive statistics including means, standard deviations, frequencies, percentages and medians were used to analyze the data. A discriminant analysis was also used to predict youth’s livestock exhibition motives. There were five conclusions for this study. First, youth livestock exhibitors in this study reported their parent was their main source of livestock knowledge and skills in their livestock project. Second, youth perceived adults modeled highly positive behaviors when working with youth in a livestock project. Third, participants agreed that competition was a driving force behind their motivation to strive for excellence in their livestock project and viewed competition in livestock exhibition to be a positive event. Fourth, youth livestock exhibitors in this study agreed they gained life skills through their engagement in a livestock project. Fifth, youth livestock exhibitors’ motives could be predicted and grouped in to competition or learning. These conclusions were discussed at length in the final chapter as well as future directions for research and implications for theory and practice.




Esters, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Adult education|Agricultural education

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