Farm Horizons, October 2012

Delano youth named poultry prince at Minnesota State Fair

By Ryan Gueningsman

August Otto knows his poultry.

Otto, 16, along with Eleni Solberg, were named Minnesota Poultry Prince and Princess at the 2012 Minnesota State Fair. This is the second year Otto has competed for the title, and the first year he has won.

Otto and Solberg, a 16-year-old from Stewartville in Fillmore County, were given the royal chicken treatment Aug. 26, after winning the third-annual poultry prince and princess contest, which is a scholarship program of Minnesota 4-H and Gold’n Plump.

The program recognizes the knowledge, leadership, and skills of Minnesota’s youth in the state’s poultry industry by awarding two teenagers with poultry ambassador titles and $1,000 academic scholarships.

Otto, the son of Mark and Denise Otto, is a junior at Delano High School. He is involved with Willing Workers 4-H and last year was named the state fair grand champion poultry barbecuer.

He and his family live on a hobby farm near Delano, and August said a common misconception people have about 4-H is that it is strictly farming and agriculture. His interest in 4-H came from his father, who told stories of how his father had cattle and farmed.

In addition to 4-H, August is a self-proclaimed “band geek,” having been involved in pep band, marching band, and honor band, and he is also involved with St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Delano.

The poultry prince and princess contest took place Aug. 23 through Aug. 26 for eligible Minnesota State Fair 4-H poultry participants.

Otto and Solberg stood out among the dozen contestants to take seats on the poultry royalty court after ranking highly in a poultry showmanship competition, chicken BBQ contest, and final round Q&A.

Sunday’s finals required the top six contestants to showcase their poultry knowledge, confidence and personality with questions like “How often do most hens lay eggs?” and “What goes into preparing your chickens to be shown at the State Fair?”

Last year’s winners, Brandon Severns, of Good Thunder in Blue Earth County, and Amy Anderson, of Cambridge in Isanti County, were in attendance to pass on the festively feathered royal garb.

Along with $1,000 scholarships, the poultry prince and princess will have the opportunity to expand their speaking, interview, and presentation skills through industry and publicity appearances during their year-long term and will receive royal portraits rendered by the official State Fair artist, Joe Heffron.

“Our hope is to continue a fantastic tradition that shines light on the vitality of our state’s poultry industry and supports agricultural education,” said Rory Bidinger, brand advocacy and marketing manager for GNP Company, the company behind the Gold’n Plump brand.

“It’s important that we create opportunities for young adults to lead and learn in our local communities,” said Brad Rugg, director of 4-H Fairs and Animal Science Programs, University of Minnesota Extension Center for Youth Development.

About GNP Company

Based in St. Cloud, GNP Company is a family-owned provider of premium chicken products to retail, deli, and foodservice customers throughout the Midwest and in other parts of the country, sold under the Gold’n Plump and Just BARE brands. The company officially changed its name from Gold’n Plump Poultry to GNP Company in 2011, to better distinguish between the company and its brands.

It employs about 1,600 people and partners with nearly 350 family farmers in Minnesota and Wisconsin to produce wholesome, high-quality chicken.

About Minnesota 4-H Extension Program

Minnesota 4-H is an after-school youth development program provided through the University of Minnesota Extension.

The 4-H mission is to engage Minnesota youth in quality learning opportunities that enable them to shape and reach their full potential as active citizens in a global community.

Last year, more than 123,000 kids throughout Minnesota participated in 4-H and learned invaluable life skills. According to a 2009 report from a Tufts University national study, 4-H youth are more than twice as likely to be civically active and make contributions to their communities, and are 47 percent less likely to have risky or problem behaviors.

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