Purple Ribbon Auction reaches $5 million milestone

FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn. - It was a monumental year at the 2015 Minnesota 4-H Purple Ribbon Livestock Auction Aug. 29 at the Minnesota State Fair.

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Carlie Jackson, a Cottonwood County 4-H'er, poses with her reserve champion Charolais steer. This was her last year participating in the Minnesota 4-H Purple Ribbon Auction after making it to the selling ring each year of her 4-H career.

FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn. — It was a monumental year at the 4-H Purple Ribbon Livestock Auction on Aug. 29 at the Minnesota State Fair.

That's not just because of the seven record-setting and two record-tying bids that were placed. It also is not solely because of it being another banner sales year, with more than $575,000 in premiums coming in from 101 cattle. Even the record $46,000 in scholarships given to 34 deserving 4-H'ers wasn't the icing on the cake.

This year, the auction's 36th, total Minnesota 4-H Purple Ribbon Livestock Auction premiums crossed $5 million, a big milestone for an event that brings together 4-H'ers, top livestock and their supporters.

For John Grass, who stepped down as the Minnesota Livestock Breeders' Association's auction committee chairman after serving for 28 years, it's not surprising the program has come so far.

"Every year they get better with genetics and good management," Grass said.


Jim Nesseth, a long-time buyer, owns Extended Ag Services in Lakefield and coordinates the Jackson County Purple Ribbon Club. He wants to support 4-H youth and their livestock.

"It's a goal to excel," Nesseth said. "If kids are fortunate enough, they get awarded. The auction garners them a premium, but it also goes to help fund grants."

Carlie Jackson is no stranger to those premiums. The Cottonwood County 4-H'er has taken livestock to the Purple Ribbon Auction every year of her 4-H career, including this, her last. This year, she showed the reserve champion Charolais steer.

"That's always been our goal, to get to the fair and into the auction if we can," Jackson said. "We want to get a piece of our division."

She's set a high standard for her two younger brothers, who she'll help become potential champions in the future.

Madison Schafer, a Goodhue County 4-H'er, was the recipient of one of the scholarships awarded just before the auction started. Schafer is a freshman at South Dakota State University, and she plans to study agriculture communication and leadership with a minor in animal science.

"I have a passion for advocating for agriculture, and I want to see others get involved," Schafer said. "This scholarship will help me make the most of college. I really greatly appreciate that."

Schafer joined 4-H as a kindergartener and has shown pigs and market lambs. She is part of the state champion Goodhue County 4-H General Livestock Judging team, which is heading to national competition in November in Louisville.


"4-H means a great deal to me," Schafer said. "It's something I'll never be able to fully give back what I gained from. Every youth should have an opportunity to be involved in an organization like that."

The Minnesota 4-H Foundation took the opportunity at the auction to spread the word about the new John "Jack" Morris 4-H Livestock Judging Fund. The fund aims to improve the quality and availability of 4-H livestock judging programs around the state. It honors Morris, who has had a long career developing 4-H livestock judging teams at the county and state level, starting in 1965. Morris led five teams to national contests, including two first-place teams.

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