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SD 4-H To Require Animal DNA Testing

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You may remember a recent cheating scandal involving a 4-H member from White Lake. The girl was accused of showing a pig at the 2011 South Dakota State Fair that she did not take care of during that particular project season. There were also allegations the same pig was also shown at the Missouri State Fair, which is against 4-H rules.

This year, South Dakota 4-Hers will be dealing with a totally different process at their individual county weigh-ins this.

4-H stands for head, heart, hands, and health; and those are the things that motivate these 4-Hers to do well and be people of good character. But this year, they will have a new piece of motivation when it comes to being honest in statewide competitions.  

Starting this year, DNA will be collected from hair samples when weighing in their animals for the fair.

“Pretty much every state around our state does it and I think really the general gist of it is to keep the integrity of the program intact,” says Amber Lounsbery, 4-H Youth Program Advisor for Lincoln County.

If your 4-Her has ever competed beyond the state level, you’re probably familiar with this process. Families will now be required to pay an additional $6 per head in order to compensate for the testing.

If they happen to win grand champion, a new sample will be pulled and compared with the original.

“I think it’s being able to pull it back and put everyone on an even playing field and making it fun for everyone, so it’s not necessarily something they’re trying to stop. It’s just moving forward—a better way of doing things,” says Lounsbery.

Many 4-H representatives like Lounsbery believe it's a necessary move that encourages accountability when it comes to good, honest competition.

“What you find in livestock groups is that everybody looks out for everybody else, and people are watching. People will pay attention to those, especially those who seem to win all the time or reap those benefits,” says Lounsbery.

Hopefully, it will be a process that will confirm that winners at the South Dakota State Fair win fair and square.

4-H representatives are not sure as to how long the testing will take place once the champions have been selected, but say that results will likely be tentative until the samples prove the winners to be official.
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