Joshua Eguires, 16, brushed Timbaland, an 18-month-old steer, on Thursday at the Aloha Stadium. His steer was named grand champion in the beef division at the 4-H Livestock Show. Eguires has been a 4-H member for eight years.

Family sweeps first-place awards
at 4-H livestock show

By Mary Vorsino

Not many kids would choose to wake up at the crack of dawn to feed a half-a-ton dairy heifer or a 200-pound swine.

But then Jill Eguires, 17, her brother Joshua, 16, and their cousin Levi Rita, 11, aren't like many kids.

The three swept the first-place awards at this year's Hawaii 4-H Livestock Show after growing up in a North Shore household chock-full of 4-H volunteers and former members.

Their grandfather, Eddie Eguires, is a 26-year volunteer of the club, and all six of his children were one-time members or current volunteers in the organization.

"It takes a lot of dedication, making sure that the animals get fed and washed," he said, while proudly adding that this is the first time in recent memory that the North Shore club, or any Oahu club, swept the first-place awards.

Neighbor-island clubs usually fare better, he said.

Debbie Porter, the children's aunt, was a seven-year 4-H member and has volunteered for the organization for more than 19 years.

She said the winners take more away from the competition than a trophy.

"Being around the kids, they're very dedicated to their 4-H project," she said. "They walk their animals, and they have to train them to be able to show them. It does take a lot of care."

The four H's stand for head, heart, hands and health.

Jill Eguires, a recent graduate of Kahuku High School, balanced her studies and stints in various school clubs with waking at 5 a.m., spending nearly an hour feeding her champion lamb and cleaning its pen, going to school, and being home at 5 p.m. to feed and clean again.

"It's a lot of very hard work," she said. "(But) they can't go get themselves a cup of water. ... They constantly depend on you."

Joshua Eguires cared for five animals this year -- a dairy heifer, a market steer, two market pigs and a lamb.

"I like raising animals. ... If you don't wake up (to feed the animals), the animals will wake you up," said Eguires, who started raising project animals when he was 9 and snagged two championships at this year's show.

The animals not only take time, but money. The children's parents spend nearly $1,000 on feed per animal per year. The animals, which are bought from the mainland, range in price from $150 for a pig to $350 for a calf.

Levi, the youngest champion in this year's 62-contestant show, has been raising and showing 4-H animals for three years. This year, his dairy heifer, Roxy, took top honors.

Parting from the animals, which are sold at auction to local farmers following the livestock show, after more three to seven months with them is more difficult for younger members, Eddie Eguires said.

"We try to tell them what it's all about, (that) we're raising the animal for market," not as a pet, he said.

Joshua Eguires remembered his first project and understood why Levi's eyes glistened as he parted with Roxy. "I (used to be) pretty attached," Joshua said. "Now ... I sell it and I know where it goes."

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