SOUTH JORDAN, Utah — Heather Anderson started raising pigs when she was in elementary school.
“[When] you give a kid who's going through some trauma an animal, something to love and something to take care of, there's a change in them," said Anderson, a former 4-H member and Miss Utah USA.
She said 4-H gave her the confidence to achieve other goals, like graduating from high school and college and taking on leadership roles. Through Salt Lake County 4-H, the young members can raise animals at the Bastian Agricultural Center.
“Just because you don't live on a farm or you don't have land that would allow you to raise an animal, doesn't mean you can't be a part of it," said Anderson.
For the past year, the 4-H kids have been raising pigs, cows and goats to be auctioned off. More than 100 of the animals at Saturday's Junior Livestock Show were sold to Salt Lake County, which is sending the animals off to be processed, packaged and delivered to the Utah Food Bank. The 4-H kids will even help pack all the meat so it’s ready to be delivered to local families in need.
“They're literally getting the best meat they possibly can because the way the kids raise these animals," Anderson said. "They are the best steers, the best hogs, the best sheep, the best goats."
Salt Lake County Councilman Jim Bradley said investing in these animals ends up serving the broader community.
“When we spend our money, we the County, and buy the animals that are for auction, we send them to the process house with a direction that when you've processed it and turned it into packaged meat, send it to the Utah Food Bank," he said.
Saying goodbye to the animals they’ve fed, trained and loved for a year isn’t easy, but the kids learn that by giving these animals up, they’re giving back to the people who need help most, Bradley said.
“These kids are the salt of the earth," he said. "They grow up with the values that we want all of our citizens, our community members to have."