Completing the mission to protect the tradition


Students shows their goats at Little International on Saturday, April 2 at the Animal Science Arena.


Days after the 93rd Little International ended, Dalen Zuidema, 94th Little International General Manager, already has a countdown set to tell him the number of days he has to prepare for one of South Dakota State University’s biggest events, the 94th Little International. Only 360 days to go. 

While this is a time of preparation for Zuidema, for others it is a time of reflection on the lasting impact of the 93rd Little International. The motto of the 93rd Little International was “On a Mission to Protect the Tradition,” which expressed the goals of the agricultural exhibition.

Each person who watched or participated in the events left their lasting impact on the SDSU tradition. For Rob Foiles, Little International was an opportunity to escape his comfort zone.

Foiles had never shown a sheep before, and he placed in both classes he competed in. 

“I went from being OK for a novice to placing within the same weekend. The judge gave us tips on how to improve—I took that to heart and worked hard,” Foiles said. 

This was a big accomplishment since Foiles’ ewe actually became sick a few days before the contest. The Sheep Unit was able to nurse her back to health, and he won third in novice fitting and third in showmanship.

For Addie Rojas, executive committee member, the experience of Little “I’ had a different meaning this year. She saw the hard work of each of the committees pay off during the event. They are each assigned to their specific contests to put Little International together and make it run smoothly each year. Little International also gave students the opportunity to show their talents and passions. 

For Kasey Schmidt, natural resources superintendent, her hard work paid off once she was able to see and meet all of the FFA members.  

“It was a great way to meet a bunch of people and see what people are passionate about. I was in natural resources in high school, and I loved it. I wanted to provide that experience [of competing at Little ‘I’] to others. It is a great way to get to know everyone and be passionate about agriculture,” Schmidt said.

Another way to meet people was to compete in contests each year created by committees to bring students, faculty and alumni to the event.

The Dairy Products Competition was a new contest started this year. The contest was a complete success, Zuidema said. They even sold the products at the auctioneering contest on Saturday of Little “I.”  One of the ice creams sold for around $200.

Zuidema has already been approached by department heads and faculty about adding new contests to the Little International next year. The contests will be precision agriculture and agribusiness contests for FFA students.