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Winter is Coming — But First, the Fall Youth Market Turkey Show

Adolescent turkey poult
Poults ready to be picked up
This year’s poults waiting for pick-up in June.

With high heat threatening to linger into September, it’s hard to imagine that fall, much less winter, is on its way. But, students are heading back to school, which means cooler weather is right around the corner.

As North Carolina looks forward to lower temperatures, it also looks forward to the State Fair. For some of NC’s youngest, that means the Youth Market Turkey Show.

Students signed up for the show in March and picked up their poults in June. PDPS checked in to see how things are going.

Supporting Youth Participants

As the student participants, ages 5 to 18, are raising their poults, PDPS students and faculty are working hard to make sure that the Youth Market Turkey Show will be a success by making sure every contender is taken care of and understands the process of growing the poults.

“It’s more than simply growing a bird…youth are exposed to all aspects during the project. Not only does it keep them engaged, but it’s something different and allows for the teaching of responsibility and leadership,” explained Research Specialist Dannica Wall, who is coordinating this year’s show.

Wall added, “it’s my job to assist our contenders and make sure that they know how the process works in regards to equipment, feeders, space, etc.”

The youth who are participating are more than engaged and are constantly asking questions to ensure that they are doing the best they can to properly raise their birds, Wall said. She makes sure that show participants get one-on-one feedback; she keeps in contact with them on a weekly basis to answer any questions.

Housing Poults

A young boy crouches with a turkey poult on green grass.
Britton holding Butter while Peanut and Jelly relax in the shade.

Because of the diverse geography across the state, participants have had to create or re-purpose existing resources to raise their birds – this could mean the birds are raised in backyards, in pens or on existing farms.

Raising poults isn’t limited to rural areas of the state. Even in North Carolina’s cities, students are carefully nurturing their poults. Jaimison D’Marcus Britton lives in Raleigh, where he’s raising three poults – Peanut, Butter and Jelly – for the October show.

Growing Demand for Growing Poults

In previous years, it’s taken up to three days to fill up the spots for the show – this year it took only two hours for all 294 participants to sign up.

Those eager participants will learn valuable skills about poultry livestock, important because poultry is the number one agricultural commodity in NC. The show can be “the first step for kids starting 4-H or even beginning to become interested in agriculture,” Wall said.

In addition to the experience and benefits that the show provides for youth, it “allows [PDPS] to give back to the community, as well as help out future students,” Wall said. Giving back to communities introduces more students to opportunities in agriculture.

That positive message seems to be spreading – this year 43 percent of the contenders are new and only seven are already 4-H members.

So far, things are looking good. “We received a lot of positive feedback – which lets me know I’m doing something right,” Wall said, laughing.

To see for yourself, visit the Youth Market Turkey Show on October 12.