The Oklahoma Youth Expo kicked off Saturday with hooves-on-the-ground exhibits showcasing 13,500 head of livestock brought by 6,000 Oklahoma youth, who have a passion for livestock and the agricultural industry, according to Tyler Norvell, executive director.
Touted as the “World’s Largest Junior Livestock Show,” the 10-day event wraps up March 26 with more than $1 million in scholarships and awards. Almost $200,000 will be awarded in college scholarships with the remaining $800,000 provided in premium sales and other awards. All 77 Oklahoma counties will be represented by at least one student.
“Last year’s expo generated an economic impact worth $24.5 million to Oklahoma City,” Norvell said. “We expect to exceed that number with another great success this year.”
The Oklahoma Youth Expo is an Oklahoma-based 501c(3) nonprofit in partnership with the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture Food and Forestry, Oklahoma State University, the Sirloin Club, the Southwest American Livestock Foundation, the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, and the State Fair of Oklahoma.
Since 2002, the Oklahoma Youth Expo has provided more than $2.1 million in scholarships to more than 1,000 Oklahoma students.
Norvell also announced the expo will showcase $9 million of renovations at the State Fair Park. Recent construction expanded the exhibit footprint 30% and added new amenities.
Included are upgraded lighting and sound systems, improved ventilation and installation of Big Ass Fans, permanent concrete back walls, better circulation path, covered wash stalls outside, remodeled restroom facilities inside and out with new HVAC, and improved water and drainage systems. FEMA approved door hardware and concrete roofs also allow exterior restrooms to serve as storm shelters.
In addition to the livestock show, the Oklahoma Youth Expo provides leadership training, a strong work ethic, and life skills.
“Our Oklahoma Agricultural Leadership Encounter is a program that provides hands-on training to ten select juniors and seniors enrolled in the OSU College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources,” said Norvell.
“In this program, students visit agriculture entities in every district of the state, tour the State Capital, visit Washington D.C., and take an international tour to see the agriculture industry in other countries. OYE raises private dollars to fund this trip, which allows students to further their understanding of agriculture worldwide and often enhances innovation in their operations in Oklahoma.”
Each expo participant has committed up to a year preparing for the annual event. They start by selecting their livestock and then care, train, and groom the animal, being available 24/7.
Life skills are learned since caring for another creature is like having a fulltime job. Weather, sickness, and various setbacks provide critical experiences. Hard work and dedication pay off as they advance through local competitions and to prepare for the Expo.
“We expect to see some terrific kids and livestock at this year’s Expo,” Norvell said. “It is such a thrill to witness their growth and dedication as we advance our proud legacy into another exciting year.”
For more information about the Oklahoma Youth Expo, please contact Chelsea Clifton at Cclifton@okyouthexpo.org or (405) 368-5939.