Little I returns to SDSU despite fire

Erin Beck

One of the longest-standing traditions on campus is approaching: the student-run Little International (Little I). SDSU will be hosting the 89th livestock exposition March 30-31 in the Animal Science Arena. This year’s theme is “Cultivating Our Future.”

According to Little I president Colton Buus, Little I presents the opportunity for high school and college students alike to participate in judging and showing livestock. Contests range anywhere from livestock judging to natural resource competitions to meat products judging.

A variety of livestock is shown, including beef, sheep, horse, dairy and swine. The livestock units on campus contribute livestock for showing in these competitions.

“Having been at three other universities that have a similar event, there’s none of them that compare to this,” said Dr. Clint Rusk, one of the Little I advisers. “We do things on a bigger scale here.”

There will be different classes of judging competitions taking place all throughout Little I. The morning program will start at 7:30 a.m. and the evening program at 6 p.m. Events include the Ag and Bio Teacher of th e Year announcement, an exotic showmanship competition among professors and other faculty, and an auctioneer contest.

One of Little I’s most memorable features is the impressive set up. Every year the ritual includes hanging up the red barn in the arena, accompanied by a white board fence and dyed green wood chips.

“It’s a big group undertaking and a big project,” Rusk said. “It’s a legacy. That’s why it’s continued all this time.”

Having participated in Little I while a student at SDSU, Dr. Cody Wright, professor and extension beef specialist, compares the event today to his collegiate experience.

“The biggest difference is that there are more clubs and organizations involved with Little I, [now]” Wright said. “It hasn’t changed a great deal, though. It’s a model that has worked for a long time.”

With the Cow/Calf Unit damaged by fire, some adjustments have been made for students preparing. According to manager Kevin VanderWal, the building that burned served as storage for equipment that students need to train for the competition. There has also been a shortage of facilities for students’ livestock while they train.

“We’ve cleared out of the calving barn and almost entirely turned it over to Little I,” VanderWal said.

Debris has been fully cleared away to give students a safe place to work with their livestock. VanderWal also said that temporary conditions, such as lighting, have been put in place.

“They haven’t had ideal conditions by any stretch,” VanderWal said.

As Little I prepares for its 89th round, Buus said it holds prospects for everyone, even students without an agricultural background. Showing competitions are in place for those who have never shown before.

“It’s a lot of fun. It’s a great way to meet people from diverse backgrounds and interests but who all have the same connection to Little I,” said Ty Littau, a junior agriculture business major.

Buus encourages students across campus to come out and watch Little I even if they are not already involved.

“It’s an opportunity for students to be exposed to agriculture, to experience a side that they aren’t used to seeing,” Buus said.