Chasing after a pig outside of the Animal Science Arena, hand fitting a sheep to perfection and raising the famous red barn — just a few things students encounter when participating in Little International.
Little “I” is a 95-year-long tradition at South Dakota State University. From March 19 to 24, college and high school students take part in the largest student-run ag exposition in the country.
Leading the organization and planning Little “I” and all of it’s events for the week is manager Kendrah Schafer.
When Schafer came to SDSU as a freshman, the now-senior animal science and ag business major recalled looking for different things to join on campus and got involved in Little “I.”
“I grew up with an ag background and mainly wanted to get involved in ag organizations,” she said.
She was accepted onto the Little “I” dance committee and showed a bull. Then, during her sophomore year, she was assistant livestock coordinator, until then-manager, Dalen Zuidema suggested she apply for assistant manager. She did, and was given the position during her junior year.
She assumed the manager position that same year and began planning for the 2018 Little “I.”
Being a manager of a big event comes with big responsibilities. She spent last summer planning, setting the dates and looking into the 15-page schedule for managers, which describes in great detail what needs to be done and when.
Another thing Schafer helps organize is the 1,200 to 1,500 high school FFA and 4-H students that can participate in career development events, livestock judging, farm business management, floriculture and other events.
Schafer’s favorite part of being a manager is the people and staff she gets to interact with.
“I love it when I can watch someone grow in their position,” she said. “I watch them take their position and make it their own, and they do such a nice job, which is refreshing.”
But Schafer doesn’t do it all on her own. It requires around 150 people to plan Little “I.” Each staff member is part of one of 40 different committees.
One of those staff members is Morgan Busack, a sophomore animal science major. Her freshman year she participated in swine showing. This year, she got the job of assistant swine superintendent.
Busack went into her position looking forward to working with the other staff members and pulling of yet another great Little “I.”
“[Schafer] really helps me with organizing and staying on top of things with the reminder emails she sends out to the staff before and after meetings,” Busack said, “I appreciate a lot of what she does to help us out.”
Unlike Busack, not everyone on staff or participating in Little “I” knows exactly what they’re doing right away or what to expect.
“We currently have people in nursing, I know we’ve had people pharmacy and other majors show, and be on staff,” Schafer said. “So you don’t have to have any experience or be in an ag related major to join these committees or show an animal.”
Committees include swine, alumni relations, machinery sales and horse, as well as an advertising and publicity committee, which is what sophomore animal science and ag communications major Addison Magill is a part of.
Last year, Magill was a part of the website staff. She joined again because she loved meeting new people and staff, as well as being apart of an SDSU tradition.
While working in Little “I,” Magill noticed Schafer’s position as a leader has earned her a lot of respect and overall coordination in the organization, which helps everyone do their job efficiently.
“As a manager she is extremely organized and is the kind of person that really helps everyone stay on task,” Magill said.
Committees that require a lot of organization are the ones that help with the animal showings, which require around 170 showmen.
Showing livestock has always been a Little “I” tradition, and to Schafer, the whole event is one big tradition.
“There are a lot of people who come back just for Little “I,” it’s a big alumni thing as well,” Schafer said.
But Little “I’s” 95 years of tradition hasn’t hindered the organization from making changes and adding new events.
This year, Schafer incorporated a barbeque contest and a new committee called iLead.
“Elementary and high school students will get to exhibit a goat and will be paired with a collegiate exhibitor if they want to experience showing,” she said.
The barbecue contest, iLead, the antique tractor show and the alumni reception and pavilion centennial celebration are some events Schafer especially encourages students to come see.
“It’s March 23 and 24 with the main events starting at 5 p.m. in the Animal Science Arena each night. It’s all free and everyone is welcome to come,” she said.