4-H provides lifelong skills for Helena teen

Ashton McGaugh and his steer
Posted at 4:46 PM, Jul 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-27 12:11:44-04

HELENA — This week hundreds of Helena youth will be presenting their 4-H projects at the Last Chance Stampede and Fair. The skills they’ve been learning often have benefits far beyond their individual projects.

Ashton McGaugh’s “big” project this year is his 1,500-pound steer. A project that’s still getting bigger, and has already eaten well over two tons of feed.

“I feel like every day we’re adding more to his feed ratio because it’s what he’s capable of doing. He’s been one of the bigger handfuls of the projects I've ever dealt with,” said McGaugh.

McGaugh’s steer is already over the average weight a steer his age should be at before going to sale. An impressive feat for a teen who only just started working with cattle a couple years ago.

McGaugh isn’t from a big cattle family and doesn’t have any plans to go into agriculture. He’s got his sights set on aviation. 4-H gave him the opportunity to raise and work with an animal like his steer. And although you don’t need to know cattle frame scores to be a pilot, there are plenty of skills he’s learned along the way that will benefit him for a lifetime.

“I would say public speaking for me,” explained McGaugh. “I’ve done interviews and put myself out there for leadership roles in 4-H… That’s truly been one of the bigger things I’ve learned.”

In addition to being more comfortable in front of a crowd, raising a steer has also made him a pro at records management. He’s also learned a lot about patience while caring for an animal that’s around 10 times his size.

Ashton McGaugh and his steer
Ashton McGaugh and his steer

“You know your steer is acting up and trying to bang you around and you have to learn to teach him who’s boss to a degree,’ said McGaugh with a smile.

Initially hesitant to join 4-H, he says he’s thankful to be a part of such a great community and for the lifelong skills he’s learned along the way.

As for how his steer will do this year, McGaugh is hopeful it will do well and proud of the animal he’s raised.

If you find yourself at the Lewis and Clark Fairgrounds this week, stop by and see firsthand some of the amazing work 4-H members have done in the last year.

4-H has a full schedule of events this week including indoor project judging on Tuesday, Dog Agility on Wednesday and the Livestock Auction on Saturday.

More information about their events this year can be found here.

4-H is far more than livestock projects. In fact, the majority of 4-H kids don’t raise an animal and participate in projects such as robotics, shooting sports and baking.

More information about 4-H and how to get involved can be found here.