Story and recipes by Cynthia Nobles
Most youngsters who raise cattle, sheep, goats, and pigs know that participating in 4-H is a good way to learn the livestock ropes and show off prized animals. Louisiana’s 4-H State President, Ty Hebert, wants to make sure that everyone eligible and remotely interested gets the chance to exhibit in 4-H show rings.
A native of Cow Island and senior at Kaplan High, Ty follows in the footsteps of his grandparents and parents, and has been showing cattle since fourth grade. He mainly shows brahmans, and is also National Vice-President of the American Junior Brahman Association.
Over the years, this energetic young cattleman has amassed a sizable collection of awards. Adding to his accolades, Ty was selected as Louisiana’s first 4-H Livestock Ambassador, in 2019. That same year he spent a week studying agriculture advocacy at Texas A&M. He came home to Louisiana to start a similar program, of advancing knowledge in animal science to high schoolers.
Through his high-profile 4-H leadership roles Ty enthusiastically reaches out to budding show cattlemen. “I try hard to encourage kids to practice good caretaking,” he says. “It’s important that children learn how to properly feed their animals. They need to focus on their animals’ health.” He also stresses that livestock champions are pampered and groomed at home, long before they set foot in the show ring. “I tell everyone,” he says, “that animals should be washed at least once a week.”
Ty also feels that networking with other 4-H participants is important. He believes that interacting with peers builds confidence, and can even make livestock more valuable. “If you’re friends with someone with a champion bull, you can use that bull with a heifer at home and make more champions. And that increases market value.”
We probably all learned in grade school that the 4-H logo design, a 4-leaf clover with H’s in each leaf, signifies, head, heart, hands, and health. 4-H started well over 100 years ago in Ohio as a local agricultural after-school club. In Louisiana, 4-H began with central Louisiana agricultural pioneer, Seaman A. Knapp, who created corn-growing clubs for young people. Knapp’s first official corn club was established in Moreauville in 1908. By 1911, corn, cotton, and pig clubs were dotting the state.
Today’s Louisiana 4-H program coordinates through the LSUAgCenter, and it is robust, with over 175,000 participants. It’s the state’s largest youth development program, and has clubs and groups in all 64 parishes.
Louisiana’s expansive 4-H adult volunteer program helps teach many diverse youth programs, such as firearm safety, cooking, sewing, gardening, and outdoor survival. These highly-trained volunteers also teach leadership, time management, and teamwork skills, and they reach over 200,000 annually.
Our 4-H livestock shows have been going strong more than 70 years, with top qualifiers advancing to district and state competitions. The auction sales that follow most shows give young participants yet another taste of real-life responsibility.
Ty mentioned one particular Vermilion Parish auction that was especially meaningful. In December 2020, 10-year-old 4-H participant Kaylee McLain died in an accident on her family’s Abbeville farm. After January 2021’s livestock show, Kaylee’s show pig, Pearl, was auctioned to set up a scholarship fund for local schoolchildren. Auction proceeds were an astounding $100,000.
Our state’s largest 4-H livestock show category is for hogs, with cattle following behind closely. In addition to sheep and goats, Ty points out that there’s also categories for poultry and rabbits. “Almost any meat and dairy-producing animal,” he said, “can be entered in today’s 4-H livestock shows.”
The glory of raising a champion steer or Rhode Island Red is laudable, but Ty thinks that youths who participate in 4-H gain something worth much more than a ribbon.
He feels that it’s a disservice for parents not to enroll their children, because “4-H kids learn leadership skills and ethical competition. They learn public speaking and other life skills,” he said. “They are presented with untold opportunities.”
In today’s tumultuous world, those kinds of personal benefits sound like a winner.
Do you have a Louisiana agriculture story or a recipe you’d like to share? Contact me at email@example.com
Cynthia Nobles is the cookbook editor for LSU Press and the author/co-author of several historical cookbooks, including A Confederacy of Dunces Cookbook, The Delta Queen Cookbook, and The Fonville Winans Cookbook
Makes 6 servings
This was one of my father’s favorite dishes. He called it Irish Stew, I suppose because of the potatoes.
1½ pounds beef chuck, cut into 1½-inch cubes
Salt, ground black pepper, and cayenne pepper
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 medium onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
4 cups beef stock
8 ounces tomato sauce
4 cups red potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cups fresh carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
¼ cup chopped parsley
For serving: hot cooked rice
1. Season beef with salt, black pepper, and cayenne and set aside. To make a roux, heat oil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat. Add flour and stir constantly until deep brown, 4-5 minutes.
2. Remove pot from heat and add onion, celery, bell pepper, and garlic. Stir 30 seconds. Return pot to medium heat and stir in stock, tomato sauce, and seasoned beef. Bring to a boil, then lower to a bare simmer. Cover and cook 1½ hours. Stir occasionally.
3. Taste stew for seasoning. Add potatoes and carrots and simmer, covered, 30 more minutes.
4. Taste again for seasoning. If too thin, simmer a few minutes without the cover. Stir in parsley and serve over hot rice.
Pork Chops with Mustard Sauce
Makes 4 servings
The USDA has recently changed its guidelines for cooking whole cuts of pork — instead of an internal temperature of 160°F, 145°F with a rest time of 3 minutes is now perfectly okay. This lower threshold produces much juicier cuts of meat. To check for doneness be sure to use an instant read thermometer.
4 (1¼-inch-thick) rib pork chops
Salt, ground black pepper, and paprika
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
10 ounces mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoon prepared Creole mustard, or any coarse-grain mustard
½ cup heavy cream
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Pat pork chops dry and sprinkle both sides with salt, black pepper, and paprika. In a large, oven-proof skillet, heat olive oil over medium-heat heat. Sear chops until deep brown, about 3 minutes each side.
2. Place skillet into oven and bake until pork is cooked through, when center reaches 145°F, about 7-9 minutes. Remove skillet from oven and place chops on a platter. Cover and keep warm.
3. In same skillet, melt butter and sauté mushrooms until tender, about 4 minutes. Remove pan from heat and stir in garlic. Stir in chicken broth and mustard and return skillet to medium-high heat. Simmer 3 minutes. Stir in cream and any accumulated juices from pork chops. Taste for seasoning and simmer until thick, about 3-4 minutes. Serve sauce over pork chops.
Makes 4 servings
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped yellow onion
½ cup chopped green bell pepper
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1½ pounds ground lamb
1 (24-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 (10-ounce) can diced tomatoes and green chilies, undrained
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
1½ cups beef stock
3 tablespoons mild chili powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained
For serving: grated Cheddar cheese and chopped onion
1. In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Sauté onion and bell pepper until onions are brown, about 5 minutes.
2. Stir in garlic and sauté 1 minute. Add ground lamb and cook until brown, about 5 minutes.
3. Stir in crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes and green chiles, tomato sauce, stock, chili powder, cumin, salt, paprika, black pepper, and cilantro. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook 45 minutes, uncovered and stirring often.
4. Stir in drained black beans and simmer until thick, about 15 minutes. Serve chili in bowls and top with Cheddar cheese and onion.
Cynthia LeJeune Nobles
Cynthia Nobles is the cookbook editor for LSU Press and the author/co-author of several historical cookbooks, including A Confederacy of Dunces Cookbook, The Delta Queen Cookbook, and The Fonville Winans Cookbook.