For 4-H alumna Lily Dias, the phrase “farm-to-table” represents much more than a slogan: it describes her family’s livelihood and her 4-H experiences. In 2022, Lily, 19, showed two steers she raised at The Eastern States Exposition, better known as the Big E. One animal was an award-winning, 1,600-pound yellow steer that sold via auction for $16,000 to University of Massachusetts Dining. The mammoth animal earned the Champion Simmental Percentage Steer and the 4-H Highly Commended Heavyweight Steer at The Big E.
Introduced to raising cattle on her family’s farms, Lily learned to market beef to consumers as a member of the Massachusetts League of Protein Producers. She also joined the Future Farmers of America as a student at the Bristol County Agricultural High School (“the Aggie”), where she judged livestock and competed in equine and dairy shows.
Lily honed her animal science skills starting at age 8 with the Fantastic 4-Hers Club in Marshfield and the Tails & Trails 4-H Club in Rochester. In addition to raising steer, Lily judged livestock in 4-H. The steers represented her final projects before aging out of the 4-H program.
4-H instilled in Lily the importance of caring for her cattle, from feeding them to placing them under fans to keep them cool. “4-H helps you gain responsibility. I was at the farm every day,” explained Lily. “You are responsible for the lives of these animals, because they can’t feed themselves.”
Today, Lily continues to spend time showing cattle while taking pride in her 2022 accomplishment. “It was definitely cool to breed, own and sell the steer that sold so high in the auction as my final 4-H project,” said Lily. “I am focusing now on making my herd better and deciding what I want to do for a career.” Lily’s determination and knowledge should lead to many career opportunities!