New Quality Counts program requirements for livestock shows

By Haley Herzog

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and Texas 4-H launched a new Quality Counts program, which includes verification requirements for all major livestock show exhibitors.

Livestock shows in Ft. Worth, San Antonio, Houston, Austin, San Angelo, Odessa, Waco and Dallas will require junior exhibitors to complete and pass a new version of the Quality Counts program. The online test measures their knowledge on quality assurance and character education content items.

“The Quality Counts program highlights different projects—such as character education, the food supply continuum, understanding food safety, caring for your animals health, food safety and antibiotic residues, setting goals for success and many topics,” Dottie Goebel, AgriLife Extension associate, said.

The new course will be launched this month.

“We are launching a new online, self-paced Quality Counts education platform,” Goebel said in an interview with Texas Farm Bureau Radio Network. “This will have about 12 modules associated with the program.”

Another key aspect in the new Quality Counts program will be its integration with Texas Livestock Validation.

“The new online portion of our program is going to be connected to our Texas Livestock Validation website. That means more integration of data and just keeping up with this information throughout the exhibitor’s career,” Goebel said.

The new data integration will allow AgriLife Extension and Texas 4-H to monitor livestock exhibitors’ progress from beginning to end, as well as obtain their information and verification through one central location.

“Now, they’re going to be going to a website called, and this is different than the previous website,” Goebel said.

The new program will be required for all exhibitors in order to participate at the upcoming stock shows, following the State Fair of Texas.

“This does start in August, so it’s not going to be required for this year’s State Fair of Texas. So, they’re going to be verified under the old program for this year’s State Fair in Dallas. However, verification on the new program is going to be required for all of our spring major livestock shows,” Goebel said.

Youth exhibitors can go online to complete the test and become verified after receiving a passing score.

The requirements for the 2018 Quality Counts program include:

Exhibitor must complete Quality Counts online self-guided modules before taking the test

Exhibitor can go through in-person classroom settings with their county Extension agent, agricultural science teacher or an adult volunteer for either the 4-H or FFA programs to prepare for the test

Exhibitor will then be required to complete the online Quality Counts test

Exhibitor must receive a passing grade of 80 percent or better. There is no limit to the number of times an exhibitor can take the text to achieve the required passing score.

“With our program, something new this year is they are going to be tested three times potentially in their show career, so from third grade to twelfth grade,” Goebel said.

The age brackets for the Quality Counts program include:

Junior exhibitors: third grade to fifth grade

Intermediate exhibitors: sixth grade to eighth grade

Senior exhibitors: freshmen to seniors

“We do having varying curriculums and exams that meet the needs of each of those age groups. So junior, intermediate and senior verification is required for the new program,” Goebel said.

Once the exhibitor has completed all Quality Counts program requirements, a verification number is needed to enter a Texas major livestock show.

“Once they have completed the Quality Counts program and have passed the verification exam with an 80 percent score or better, they will be presented with a Quality Counts verification number. This number will be used on livestock entry forms,” Goebel said. “They will keep track of that number, put it on their entries and that will show they’re verified through the Quality Counts program.”

The Quality Counts program is expected to verify more than 30,000 youth livestock exhibitors in Texas each year.

“In terms of metrics and gauging how much our students have learned, first and foremost, we just hope we see that our livestock exhibitors are well-rounded youth, which we know they are,” Goebel said. “They’re the ones who are going to go out and help us learn new and innovative ways on how to produce more with less resources than we ever have before, and we’re excited to see how our curriculum that they’re learning as a youth livestock exhibitor really plays out.”

The Quality Counts program has been in existence for six years and is supported and endorsed by every major livestock show in Texas.

“The Quality Counts program is a program that’s designed for youth livestock exhibitors here in Texas with the unique needs of the Texas livestock program,” Goebel said. “This is achieved through several modules that have been put together by leading industry experts, as well as 4-H and FFA personnel, major livestock show representatives, veterinarians and others.”

Goebel noted the program outcomes demonstrate youth being more knowledgeable of best management practices associated with livestock projects, and the program’s impact has demonstrated positive changes in personal character attributes, as well as adoption of the best livestock management practices.

“A number of professionals are committed to this program and dedicated to making sure all of the information in the Quality Counts program is up-to-date, and we hope that our youth livestock exhibitors find this to be engaging, informative and useful as they go throughout their livestock show career and beyond,” Goebel said.

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