Practice makes perfect outside the auction arena

With all of the excitement of auction night, what should youth say? What should they do? In 4-H we often practice what happens inside the auction arena because we want to be sure youth are prepared, comfortable and confident for the events that take place.

It’s livestock auction night at the fair and there’s excitement in the air. Youth are dressed to impress and animals have been bathed and are ready for the auction arena. That moment comes when youth enter the auction arena with their animal and a fury of bidding takes place. Finally, the bidding slows and then stops. The auctioneer announces the final bid has taken place and confirms the bidder number and final purchase price. As youth exit the auction arena, they now need to locate the successful bidder for some introductions.

Wait… introductions? With all of the excitement of auction night, what should youth say? What should they do? How can we as adults help youth to remember their manners outside of the auction arena? In 4-H, we often practice what happens inside the auction arena because we want to be sure youth are prepared, comfortable and confident for what events take place. However, we tend to forget to practice what should happen outside of the auction arena.

4-H leaders, parents and staff should remind youth that once they leave the auction arena and put their animal back into the barn, they should find their buyer. They need to:

  • Stand tall! Be proud of the animal they just sold.
  • Make eye contact. Show the buyer you know they were the successful bidder.
  • Smile. It’s okay to show that you’re excited about selling your animal.
  • Shake your buyer’s hand. It’s always a good idea to talk with youth about how to properly shake hands with a buyer. It’s a skill they will need to know as they grow into young adults. Michigan State University Extension has a resource, The Perfect Business Handshake, that teaches youth how to properly shake hands. In an article written by Janice Zerbe, Business handshake- your first impression, you will also find several tips and tricks for proper handshakes.
  • Speak loudly and clearly. It’s often loud at a livestock auction.

Are youth unsure of what to say when talking with buyers? Here are some ideas for what they should say to their buyer:

  • Hi! My name is _______________!
  • What’s your name?
  • Thank you for buying my market _______________ (lamb, chicken, steer, etc.).
  • As a result, I plan to ____________________ (buy a car, save for next year’s animal, go back to school shopping, etc.).
  • Would you like to meet/talk to _____________________ (my parents, my 4-H leader, etc.)?
  • Thank you for coming to the auction tonight and supporting our 4-H program.

Remember, it’s just as important to help youth navigate the interaction between themselves and their buyer outside of the auction arena as it is to help them prepare for what happens in the show ring or auction arena. The key to having youth feel prepared, comfortable and confident is to practice! By practicing, youth gain important skills such as communication, marketing skills, social skills, skills to nurture relationships and self-esteem. For more information about life skills and livestock, see Showing livestock today = great interview skills tomorrow written by Jake DeDecker.

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