Media Tip Sheet: Stock Show 2002

Colorado State University’s President Albert Yates will receive the 2002 "Citizen of the West" award on Wednesday, Jan. 16 at the Adams Mark Hotel as part of the National Western Stock Show festivities. President Yates was selected by a committee of community leaders for the award, which recognizes a person who best exemplifies the spirit and determination of the Western pioneer. The award, a branding iron, will be presented during a dinner that benefits the National Western Scholarship Fund and is an annual highlight to the opening of the National Western Stock Show, Rodeo and Horse Show. As president of Colorado State, the state’s land-grant institution, President Yates has led a significant transformation of the Fort Collins campus. His designation as Citizen of the West honors his lifelong commitment to Western values and his significant contributions to Colorado, agriculture and higher education.

With a changed landscape since Sept. 11, the National Western Stock Show will be taking extra efforts to make sure that animals at the event are healthy and don’t pose a risk to other animals. Biosecurity precautions will include extra scrutiny of animal health certificates, generated by veterinarians, for all animals on the premises and the keen, watchful eyes of NWSS officials in the barns and show rings. Steve LeValley, a Colorado State Cooperative Extension livestock specialist, is a livestock superintendent for the stock show and can discuss biosecurity at the event.

Stock show comes to life for thousands of Denver metro elementary school children with a trip behind the scenes complete with barn tours and a chance to meet NWSS clowns. The kids get a chance to see bulls, horses, goats and other critters up close, definitely a memorable experience for many urban children. The educational tours show children how they connect to agriculture daily — through the food they eat, the products they use and the open landscape of Colorado. Most tours begin at 9 a.m. and continue throughout the day, incorporating stock show events. The tours, which are daily except for on Martin Luther King Day, include free NWSS admission. They are coordinated by Tom Fey, Colorado State University Cooperative Extension agent in Adams County.

The National Western Stock Show annually attracts some of the best equine athletes in the United States. The many equestrian events run the gamut from cutting horse competition to dressage to "An Evening of Dancing Horses." Just like human athletes, these horses have to be in peak condition to perform well. Some equine veterinary experts at Colorado State will offer insights into the special nutritional and medical needs of these outstanding horses.

One aspect of competition shared by both human and equine athletes is muscle and joint injury and disease. Colorado State’s Equine Orthopaedic Research Center conducts research into the causes of, and treatments for, various musculoskeletal injuries and diseases. Research projects include the use of gene therapy to effectively treat equine arthritis; restoring proper hoof balance through a new, lightweight shoe; early detection of musculoskeletal injury through serum markers; causes and cures for osteoarthritis; and the role of free radicals in joint disease.

"Horses and humans get the same sort of problems when they are injured athletically," said Dr. C.Wayne McIlwraith, equine orthopaedic surgeon at Colorado State’s EORC. "In the equine athlete, lameness resulting from joint injury and joint disease is a major cause of poor performance as well as economic loss and early retirement. We are working to prevent that and, in doing so, we hope to help humans also suffering with musculoskeletal injury and disease."

Alternative therapies such as acupuncture and chiropractic to treat equine injury. Dr. Gayle Trotter, an equine surgeon for 30 years, has begun integrating alternative therapies into his practice at the James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital at Colorado State. The active lifestyle and hectic schedule of a horse in competition can cause any number of stresses and subtle injuries. Many normal functions can also cause loss of motion in horses, including illness, poor shoeing, an ill-fitting saddle, accidents in the pasture or barn, poor training, poor conformation, long confinements or cold starts.

"I believe the integrated approach to equine veterinary medicine is the answer – using both alternative and conventional methods to help equine clients," Trotter said. "Veterinary chiropractic is a science that views the equine as an integrated animal, treating the musculoskeletal, neurological and vascular systems as being interrelated."

National Western Stock Show embodies the lure of the old west: bulls, boots, chaps, cowboy hats, lariats and wide-open spaces. Many people in Colorado covet a few acres of their own so they can run a few horses and have room to stretch out. But mismanagement of those little parcels of land can put a strain on neighborly relations, animals, resources and the environment. Proper small acreage management is critical to preserving the benefits of living on a few acres. Dennis Lamm, Colorado State Cooperative Extension specialist, is an expert in small acreage management and will be available to discuss how people along the Front Range can care for their little slice of heaven.

National Western Stock Show is a big event, but just how big is agriculture in Colorado? Agriculture is a large economic contributor to the state’s economy, according to Andy Seidl, Colorado State University Cooperative Extension specialist and economics professor. But perhaps even more important, the industry also supplies the state with almost half of its beautiful, open landscape and the majority of habitat for Colorado’s wildlife. Andy Seidl, a Colorado State Cooperative Extension public policy specialist and professor of agriculture economics, can discuss how agriculture provides much of the state’s landscape and homes for wildlife, and how the two interact.

A Colorado State Cooperative Extension favorite – the Catch-a-Calf Contest – returns to the stock show this year. This long-standing tradition at the National Western dates back to 1935 and gives 12 to 18-year-olds a chance to catch a calf. Always a crowd pleaser during the rodeos, a group of youths are turned loose with only a few calves in a pen to catch. The enthusiastic 4-H youth wrestle with the calves, trying to get a halter on one so they can take it home as a 4-H project, feed and care for it, and bring it back the next year to compete in the show ring. Those 4-H’ers successful in catching a calf maintain contact with contest sponsors, giving them updates about the animal and its health, and care for the animals daily, a practice that teaches responsibility, leadership and communication skills. Sue Cummings, Colorado State Cooperative Extension, coordinates the Catch-A-Calf contest at the NWSS each year.

What does National Western Stock Show have to do with one’s dinner plate? Everything. People may not realize that a thick, juicy sizzlin’ steak cooked to perfection starts in a corral, and, just like a good recipe, it takes a little of this and a little of that to make meat taste good. The science behind a tasty dinner plate includes the animal’s breeding — including it’s body composition, which is what animals are judged for at the NWSS – what it eats, the amount of stress the animal experienced, and how the carcass is treated. John Scanga, Keith Belk and Gary Smith, meat quality researchers at Colorado State, know all of the ingredients it takes to make a steak dinner a true treat. The group, which works in the university’s Center for Red Meat Safety, has improved the taste, shelf life and integrity of meat through their research.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the national 4-H program. It also marks the 50th anniversary of the Colorado 4-H Youth Fund, a fund that helps to pay for youngster’s involvement in community service and special opportunities. Several hundred 4-H’ers compete in junior contests at the stock show each year. But 4-H is about more than just competition: events such as the stock show contests are the culmination of months of hard work, training, record keeping and thoughtful care of animals. Although competing in stock show is a glitzy end to those months, it’s the work leading up to the event that really counts in 4-H. It’s the philosophy of 4-H that youth participate in events and engage in projects to develop skills and traits, such as ethics, leadership, effective decision-making, critical thinking, honesty and a devotion to community service, instead of just a trophy case full of blue ribbons. These skills are targeted to help youth become responsible adults who contribute to their community. Dale Leidheiser can discuss how that purpose is apparent in every 4-H project that a youth chooses to devote time to. (NWSS 4-H Day is Wednesday, Jan. 23)

The National Western Stock Show is a well-oiled machine. But the event couldn’t go smoothly without the dedication of many people working behind the scenes, including many Colorado State University interns from the College of Agriculture. These students help out each year in various Stock Show offices including the pressroom, entry offices, ticket office and human resources office, in turn getting valuable experience and contact with individuals in the industry. Judi Barbour coordinates these internships for Colorado State University.