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|Catch-A-Calf Latina participant treasures moments with steer|
|By Bertha Velasquez|
It has been more than 70 years since the Catch-A-Calf contest became a mainstay of the National Western Stock Show.
Attracting youths from across Colorado and adjacent Western states, the contest gives participants the opportunity to gain leadership skills and learn hard work.
The program involves young participants raising a steer for a year to meet optimal weight. As a market steer the animal will be judged on its rate of weight gain, quality of fitting and carcass quality.
A participant of the event was Alma Carina Ramos. At 13-years-old, this Latina was one of the youngest participants of the program.
This was the first time that she participated in the Catch-A-Calf program where she placed 13 out 48 exhibitors. “I just thought it was wonderful to get to that point out of 48,” Ramos said. The 2011 calf placings were announced during the Catch-a-Calf Show on Jan. 8.
Prior to her participation in the program, she partook in the Adams County Fair, working with goats and sheep. Ramos explained however, that she always wanted to work with a steer and when the opportunity arrived, she took advantage of it.
“Well I thought (Catch-A-Calf) was wonderful because I made a new best friend,” Ramos said. She enjoyed Appa’s, her steer, presence, but “ … it’s harder because he is not there anymore.” She shared, “He was awesome.”
Ramos said she named her steer after a character in the cartoon, “Avatar: The Last Airbender.” The flying bison reminded her of her steer.
Appa weighed in last Friday at 1,165 pounds. He was originally 627 pounds when she first got him last May. That’s when she first met with her sponsor, too.
Ramos spoke about her experience working with her sponsor, CVMA Auxiliary. “I thought she was wonderful,” Ramos said about Peggy Dixon. She said that as part of the program she had to keep in touch with her sponsor, writing her a letter on a monthly basis. For Ramos, it was very meaningful to receive a response from her, “she always wrote back.”
Dixon also came over a couple of times to visit Ramos and Appa. Ramos shared that Dixon also complemented her on her dedication to her steer saying that she was very successful in raising him.
Ramos also entered Appa in events at the Adams County Fair where he won many events, including her first belt buckle.
As an exhibitor, these young participants were also judged based on a two-minute personal interview, showmanship and record book. Ramos said jokingly that she didn’t care too much for bookkeeping.
When asked what it takes to be a champion, she said, “working hard” and “focusing on what you have to do.”
“Responsibility,” Ramos said was the most important thing she learned in her participation in this program. “I had to get up every morning to go and feed him and give him water.”
Participants of the event are 4-H members, which allows members to appreciate and learn what goes into animal husbandry and the responsibility of raising animals in an ethical manner. “It teaches responsibility,” Ramos said about 4-H.
Events such as Catch-A-Calf also meet some criticism because of the animal’s role.
Asked what she thought about people who may hold those perceptions, Ramos said, “It’s a good experience. You should try it before you judge it.” She said that she has learned so much from the experience.
As for those who would like to participate in a program like Catch-A-Calf, Ramos sounded elated about the many opportunities, including scholarships, that are available because of it. “Go out and do it,” she said. “It’s a great experience. You will get something out of it.”
In the end, Ramos reflected on her entire experience. While she said that it was very difficult to part from Appa, she cherishes the moments that she spent with him through the entire process — like the time when he dragged her into the mud.
Ramos also shared some words directed to the National Western Stock Show saying, “Thank you for proving me with this wonderful opportunity to learn so much and meet a new best friend.”
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