The second annual Dean’s Charity Steer Show returned to the Ohio State Fair this year after a two-year hiatus and had exceptional results. Cathann A. Kress, vice president for agricultural administration and dean of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, hosted the event. Eleven teams of celebrity exhibitors, media personalities, and 4-H youth experts raised more than $200,000 for Ronald McDonald House Charities. One team included Bill Patterson, president of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation and previous Ohio 4-H Foundation board member; Ty Higgins, senior director of communications at the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation; and Rachel O’Reilly, a member of Geauga County 4-H, who has been showing steers for more than 10 years.
4-H has always been a family affair for Rachel, with both her parents and all three of her siblings involved in the program. Her mom showed steers as a Pennsylvania 4-H member and her siblings have shown steers and other livestock in Geauga County. This is Rachel’s second year competing at the Ohio State Fair with steers. In 2021, she placed in the top 10 in showmanship and was second in her market class, and this year she placed fifth overall in showmanship and won her market class!
When Rachel was approached to serve as one of the 4-H youth experts at the Steer Show, she was excited to accept. After being paired with Patterson and Higgins, Rachel set up training sessions at her family farm and she taught them the essentials of showing a steer. She laid the groundwork by demonstrating how to lead a steer and hold the halter, where they should stand so as not to obstruct the judge’s view, and explaining the importance of maintaining eye contact with the judge. Rachel said, “I also showed them how to correctly set up a steer so that its head and feet were placed correctly and taught them how to use the show stick to assist with this.”
While helping Patterson and Higgins learn the basics of showing a steer, she realized there was one thing she couldn’t teach them. “In the decade I’ve been showing, I’ve realized the importance of having confidence in my abilities. A judge can tell when you don’t feel comfortable with your animal or when you’re not confident in what you’re doing, and that’s not something that you can teach someone in a few hours. Confidence and comfortability are skills you develop through years of practice, but Bill and Ty took it all in stride.”
Rachel is proud of how well Patterson and Higgins did at the show. “The judges were, understandably, significantly more lenient on the celebrity exhibitors than what I’m used to, so it was all a little less intense, but I think everyone had a good time.” Rachel was especially excited when her team was announced as the showmanship champions for the entire show. “It felt really good to know I’d taught them well and they had paid attention during our training sessions! Overall, it was just a really cool experience.”
For additional information about the 2022 Dean’s Charity Steer Show and photos from the event, visit the show’s website. Giving pages will remain open through August 31 and all proceeds benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities.