FARGO, N.D. — The Little International, or "Little I," livestock show is coming up this weekend at North Dakota State University. But students don't have to be ag majors —or even come from a farm — to show animals at the largest student-run event on campus.
"Some kids, it's just to have an opportunity to make new friends or to be with their friends. Others, it's kind of just that gaining more responsibility, gaining more time-management skills," explained Katie Skalicky, the 2020 Little I Queen.
Those are important skills whether or not a student comes from a farm or plans a career in ag. The students spend about two weeks before the show grooming and training animals they get from NDSU.
Sloan Smith is majoring in construction management. But her mom encouraged her to try showing livestock while she's in college.
"Last year, I showed a sheep, and that was super fun," Smith said.
This year, she's showing a pig, and she says it's been life-changing.
"This weekend I attended the Young Farmers and Ranchers Conference, just like, to do it, and I'm sitting there, I'm like, wow, OK, maybe I'm in the wrong major now," she said.
Isaac Cuchna, a natural resource management major, isn’t from a farm either, but now he thinks he'd like to own some land and livestock someday, thanks to what he's learned at Little I.
"Be patient with them, and you work with them, and you keep working with them, and eventually you two are one," he said.
Shantell Jepson plans to be a family and consumer science teacher, but she wanted some experience showing animals in case her career path takes her into Extension work.
"It actually already helped me," she said. "I did two years of interning over the last two summers in the Minnesota Extension. Just from knowledge of showing beef, pigs and sheep so far, it has helped me a lot because I was able to answer questions from 4-Hers or just know how shows run and work."
The public is welcome to watch the more than 100 students showing at Little I, scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 15, at NDSU's Shepperd Arena. The participants are looking forward to the experience and enjoying their preparations.
"It's been fun. Like, these two weeks are probably like the best weeks of the year," Jepson said. "So, they're busy, chaotic, little sleep. But they're the best two weeks."