Agriculture event offers opportunities for everyone

Virginia Berg

Virginia Berg

One of SDSU’s largest student organizations only gets to shine one weekend a year. March 30 and 31 is the weekend those students will put an entire year’s worth of planning into action.

Little International, otherwise known as Little I, is an annual tradition at SDSU that incorporates high-school and college students as well as advisers, alumni and families. According to this year’s manager, Dustin Mohrhauser, last year’s event attracted between 200 and 300 college students and around 1,800 high-school students from 75 different high schools.

In addition to being last year’s assistant manager, Mohrhauser, a senior animal science major, first became involved with Little I through 4-H and FFA nearly 15 years ago.

Assistant Manager Crissa Zenk has also been involved with Little I for quite some time. The Wagner native and junior agronomy major had been involved throughout much of her childhood, beginning around age eight.

Not all staff members have been involved since childhood, though. Ashlea Paul, a junior health promotion major, grew up in Swea City, Iowa, and did not hear about Little I until she watched it as a high-school senior. Since coming to SDSU, Paul has been involved with Little I for three years, including three staff positions and competing in the pig division of the showmanship and fitting competition. This year, Paul oversees photography, writing the catalog and scoring and tabulation.

Paul says that Little I is a good experience that gets people involved in different activities.

“People come from all over to meet in one place for agriculture,” Paul said. “It really is a family event.”

While Little I is an annual event at SDSU, other universities around the country also hold their own Little Internationals. Zenk lists North Dakota State University, Kansas State and Michigan as examples.

At SDSU, 113 students work on staff, plus three advisers and numerous contributors from the community participate, she said. In total, Zenk estimates between 300 and 350 people are involved in putting this year’s event together.

Although most of the staff are animal science majors, a few are not. April Lewis is a first-year staff member. A parks and recreation major, Lewis first participated in Little I through FFA at her high school in Garretson. She now works as a scoring and tabulation assistant.

Other majors on staff this year include sociology, nursing majors and several others. Mohrhauser says that the array of majors on the Little I staff varies form year to year, and all staff members bring different aspects to the table.

An event that has been around for 84 years is bound to have a few traditions.

been around so long that they seem like [they are] tradition,” said Mohrhauser, “But the only three things that have been around since the beginning are the red barn that we use for a background, the white picket fence around the arena and the green wood chips.”

The wood chips, which the students dye green, are mixed using the cow-calf unit’s feed mixer. It is done during the week of Little I, and can become time consuming, said Mohrhauser.New for this year’s Little I is a meat products contest, in which participants will create a summer sausage. The top three creations will be auctioned off at Saturday night’s event, Mohrhauser said.

Little I now has a scholarship fund for the champion and reserve champion round-robin showmanship competition and has brought back the draft horse division of the showmanship and fitting competition.

Zenk, who will manage next year’s Little I, said the committee is looking to increase participation next year among alumni, community members and students not already involved in the college of agriculture and biological sciences.

“We would really like to see Little I become more of a campus-wide event by getting students in other colleges involved,” Zenk said. The committee has looked at adding additional contests to accomplish this.

For more information, including ways to get involved with or compete in Little I, visit the SDSU Web site and search “Little I.”