The Poultry Federation is on a mission to support youth programs across the state.
Every summer The Poultry Federation (Federation) hosts the annual poultry festival, a tradition that spans more than six decades. The festival takes place over two days and is an event that brings together upwards of 5,000 industry partners, families, and friends. Festival events include a golf tournament, trap shoot, bass tournament, women in poultry brunch, barbecue cooking competition, a concert, and the state 4-H cooking competition.
For over 20 years the Federation has hosted the state 4-H cooking competition to support Arkansas 4-H. This opportunity gives 4-H students exposure to the poultry industry in Arkansas and the chance to network with leadership. The Arkansas 4-H State Champion Broiler and Turkey Competition is organized by Scharidi Barber with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service. Barber has worked hard to ensure the Arkansas 4-H youth are given the opportunity to participate in the annual competition. Barber has a deep passion to inspire future leaders fueled by her own experiences growing up in the industry.
To be eligible to participate in the state 4-H cooking competition, students compete at the county level. Only 16 students are part of the state 4-H cooking competition. Students have the choice to cook turkey or chicken and are judged on a specific set of criteria. Awards are given to first, second, and third place participants. The State Champion Broiler and State Champion Turkey award winners then go on to compete at the National 4-H Poultry and Egg Conference in Louisville, Kentucky in November. Other 4-H contestants at the conference will compete in poultry judging, egg preparation, and the Avian Bowl. The poultry judging contest teaches participants to make decisions in an orderly manner, use reasoning skills, and communicate decisions. Students also learn to use United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) grading criteria to determine quality of ready-to-cook poultry and eggs.
Through a $10,000 donation received from Federation allied member, Van der Graaf (VDG), Arkansas 4-H was able to provide lodging, grills, aprons, and awards for participants of the 2022 state champion cooking competition and travel funds to attend the National 4-H Conference.
“Our experience with The Poultry Federation and 4-H BBQ contest sponsorship was nothing short of spectacular. The competition was not just cooking and creating a masterpiece of flavors, it was also a written and creative assignment,” said Rick Zander of VDG. “It was heartwarming knowing that some of the young participants had never traveled, nor stayed in a hotel, and this was their first opportunity to experience a poultry industry-related event.
“Something as simple as food and BBQ can bring people from different parts of the country together. It is why events like the Poultry Festival and 4-H BBQ competitions are so important for the youth of tomorrow and industry success moving forward,” said Zander.
The Federation does not stop short in their support of Arkansas 4-H. Marvin Childers serves as president of The Poultry Federation and a member of the Arkansas 4-H Foundation board of directors.
“As a current member of the Arkansas 4-H Foundation Board, I am proud of our alliance with the Arkansas 4-H and the long-standing tradition of hosting the 4-H State Champion Broiler and Turkey Competition,” said Childers. “We are thankful for the support received from Van der Graaf. Without their partnership, we would not be able to provide these kids the chance to be exposed to a large portion of the industry.”
Arkansas ranks third in the nation for both broiler and turkey production, with the top-producing counties being Benton and Washington. The summer tradition of hosting the 4-H State Broiler and Turkey Competition during the Federation’s annual festival will continue to be a custom for years to come.
“To host this competition shows the commitment The Poultry Federation’s board of directors has when it comes to working with Arkansas youth. There are hundreds of jobs in the poultry and egg industry, and we need these students to be exposed to and interested in agriculture,” said Childers.
You can learn more about The Poultry Federation's annual festival here.
Arkansas Grown 2023, sponsored by The Arkansas Department of Agriculture
Arkansas 4-H youth during the 2022 state champion cooking competition