Little I Livestock Expo offers unparalleled showing experience for students

Kelly Jedrzejewski
March 19, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State Block and Bridle Club members are gearing up for one of their favorite events, the 102nd Little International Livestock Exposition, a yearly event that gives students hands-on experience showing beef and dairy cattle, swine, horses and sheep from the University’s on-campus farms.

Little I, as it is often referred to by club members, will take place from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. on April 6 in the Snider Agricultural Arena at University Park. The Block and Bridle Club will be joined by the Penn State Dairy Science Club, which will be hosting its annual Dairy Expo during the event.  

According to Shelby Dean, president of the Block and Bridle club, the chapter is considered the premier livestock club of the College of Agricultural Sciences and is open to anyone with an interest in agricultural science and livestock.

“All our members share a common goal of wanting to work in the livestock industry and improve the industry overall,” she said.

Dean, of New Castle, who got involved with Block and Bridle as a freshman, noted that livestock was a big part of her childhood.

"I wanted to continue that in my career," she said. "Being part of Block and Bridle has been a lot of fun and valuable for my future.”

Through the Block and Bridle alumni affiliate Stockman’s Club, current club members have a great resource in the industry.

“The alumni come to some of our events and it’s a great opportunity to network and make connections," said Dean, an animal science student, also lives and works at the University’s Beef-Sheep Center. "Also, having the chance to talk with alumni who are out there in the industry is a great way for club members to learn more about how their interests fit into the livestock industry.”

One of Block and Bridle’s biggest — and most fun — events is the Little International showcase and Dairy Expo. After a student signs up for Little I, they choose an animal to work with, then spend several weeks working with that animal and getting ready to show it. Dean said they are expecting 25 cattle showmen, 15 horse showmen and 15 exhibitors showing both pigs and sheep this year.

The club’s vice president, Josh Beam, a senior animal science major, said, “Little I is a chance for new and experienced showmen alike to be invited back to the show ring and compete in good-natured fun against their friends and other club members. Like many others, my favorite part of the whole deal is getting to work with one of the animals, which is an opportunity you just can’t find in the classroom.”

Junior animal science major Samantha Gollmer agreed that the camaraderie of the club is one of her favorite parts: “I really enjoy the friendships I have made with the other showmen as well as learning more about the swine industry.”

The night before the show, the animals are brought over to stalls at the Snider Agricultural Arena. Show morning, exhibitors arrive early to groom their animals. The first two groups in the arena are horses and sheep, then pigs and beef cattle. With the Dairy Expo going on at the same time, that means three different species are showing simultaneously.

There are two divisions for each species: amateurs who have never shown before and professionals who have shown either in Little I or other competitions outside of the University. Exhibitors are judged on showmanship and fitting. Showmanship examines the exhibitors themselves and how the exhibitors work with their animals in preparation for the event. Fitting is essentially the grooming of the animals.

“The students put in a lot of time into the weeks leading up to Little I," Dean said, "They go to practices several times a week to groom their animals, spend time with them and get them ready to be shown. All the animals shown are young, so this is as much of a new experience for them as it is for some of the students.”

For senior biology major Elizabeth Bruzinski, Little I has been an opportunity to gain more experience with one of her favorite animals.

“I took riding lessons as a kid, and I really fell in love with horses,” she said. “I am completing the equine science minor and I’m looking forward getting to know my horse. I had ‘CJ’ last year and he was a lot of fun to work with.”

Senior animal science major Morgan Hultman is also working with horses, but last year she worked with a beef heifer because it was a new species for her.

“I had shown sheep through 4-H and horses in some local shows back home, but I wanted to try something new,” she said. “My favorite part was getting to see the progress my heifer, ‘Petunia,’ and I made, which ultimately led to us winning fitting and showmanship in the amateur division.”

After each of the species has shown, the four champions and four reserve champions compete in a round-robin event where students show all the other species. The two groups are only judged on showmanship this time, and the person with the lowest points wins the overall showman title for the whole show.

The Dairy Expo is a similar event with about 30 participants. According to Chairman Michael Morgan, a junior animal science major, the exposition is a chance for students to get hands-on experience with dairy heifers. No prior experience is required, and all majors are welcome to participate. The learning process is one of Morgan’s favorite parts of the event.

Students randomly select a heifer to work with, then the training process begins.

“When we return from spring break, practices are held to allow students to train and bond with their heifers while learning how to show them," Morgan said. "The day of the event, students will get a chance to display the skills they learned in the show ring.”

Dairy Science Club President Shoshana Brody, a junior in animal science, added, “We have people showing who have never touched a cow to people who have won national contests showing at the expo. It’s a good learning and growing experience for everyone in the club.”

For more information about the 102nd Little International Livestock Exposition and Dairy Expo, contact Dean at sed5377@psu.edu or Morgan at mtm5575@psu.edu.

 

  • Little I horses

    Little International Livestock Exposition gives students hands-on experience showing beef and dairy cattle, swine, horses and sheep from the University’s on-campus farms.

    IMAGE: Shelby Dean

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated March 28, 2019