CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Kelly Tuckwiller understands the hard work that goes into raising an animal on a farm and the lessons learned about nurturing something that's going to become food.
There are bound to be a few tears involved.
As head of agricultural competitions for the State Fair of West Virginia, part of Tuckwiller's job is organizing 430 kids from 4-H and Future Farmers of America clubs around West Virginia whose hard work this past year culminates with the fair.
"It kind of takes an army to put it on," she said. "But it's great to see these kids - they work hard. They're our future farmers and producers."
Tuckwiller knows from experience. A Greenbrier County native, she grew up on a family farm.
"When I was a kid, I raised animals. As soon as summer hits, you work every day," she said. The goal, of course, is to raise healthy livestock for auction. It can be a hard reality for a kid.
"We raised them from the time they were born. I probably shed a few tears in my day," Tuckwiller said. "You always see a few tears here."
The heart of the state fair is highlighting agriculture, though certainly good food and entertainment are a big part of it.
Tuckwiller said it's heartening to see the number of youth participants has grown over last year by about 20; the category includes young people from age 9 to 21.
The youth are responsible for setting up their animals in pens, grooming and feeding them and preparing them for show.