INDIANAPOLIS — Success in the beef show at the Indiana State Fair is a natural extension of a lifetime around cattle for two families of Madison County 4-H'ers.

Fourth grader Carly Shuter and her heifer, Lola, garnered champion in the Red Angus junior showmanship class last week. Older brother Jacob won the championship in the intermediate showmanship category with his Limousin heifer.

Carly and Jacob grew up around cattle.

“4-H teaches great responsibility, how to work hard, and teamwork,” said their dad, Brian Shuter.

Brian’s dad, Mike Shuter, was a 10-year 4-H'er in Madison County, and Brian showed Red Poll cattle from his family’s herd throughout his own 10-year 4-H career. This marks Brian’s third year as the cattle barn superintendent for 4-H and open beef shows at the state fair.

“It’s fun to watch our kids develop friendships with kids from all around the state,” Sarah Shuter said.

She was a 4-H'er in Huntington County before meeting Brian through mutual friends while they were students at Purdue.

“I had a different experience in 4-H,“ Sarah said, noting that she didn't show livestock but was familiar with it through friends.

“It’s like a big family in the cattle barn — a village of people working together with you and for you,” Sarah added.

The family-and-friends theme is repeated all across the cattle barn during the state fair.

Just a few rows from the Shuters, Kendall Leonhard was preparing his Shorthorn Plus heifer, Mary Jane, for the senior showmanship competition. Kendall would later be selected as the champion.

“My target show for Mary Jane is Denver in January,” he said. “This (4-H competition) is on the path there.”

Kendall is thankful to be able to turn for advice to older cousins who showed cattle. His mom, Beth Vansickle, showed 4-H cattle, as well, but as part of Madison County’s Extension staff, she balances responsibilities.

“4-H'ers can exercise their cattle in the Coliseum in the early mornings,” before the shows begin, Beth said, “to get the cattle and the 4-H'er used to the arena.”

Those early-morning strolls, and years of working with cattle, have paid off for these local 4-H'ers.