4-H participants ride on a horse and buggy at the national western stock show

4-H Day at the National Western Stock Show recognizes Western heritage, connects youth and families with Colorado agriculture

Colorado 4-H is a longtime partner of the National Western Stock Show (NWSS), offering youth and families an opportunity to learn about and engage with the agricultural industry during the two-week event. The NWSS provides an opportunity for 4-H youth to learn from industry professionals, show animals and make connections with youth from Colorado and other western states. Each year during the stock show, 4-H Day spotlights the longstanding partnership between Colorado 4-H and the NWSS.  

This year, 4-H Day at the National Western Stock Show falls on Jan. 14, 2022.  

Recognizing heritage, engaging youth

In 1914, the federal Smith-Lever Act established a national Cooperative Extension Service to provide educational outreach through land-grant universities. 4-H Youth Development became one of the early programs coordinated by Extension services nationwide. Colorado State University Extension has supported Colorado 4-H as part of this national network for over 100 years.  

4-H girls show champion livestock
A 4-H participant shows champion livestock Photo Credit: CSU Archives & Special Collections.

For decades, Colorado 4-H has actively boosted interest in the stock show by involving 4-H youth in a variety of activities including showing livestock and competing in other events such as Livestock and Horse Judging. 

These days, 4-H Day is a highlight of the stock show and remains a way to celebrate western heritage.  

“The National Western Stock Show is a western heritage event,” said Jean Glowacki, Director of Colorado 4-H. “The presence of youth sends a strong message about our commitment to recognize and remember our heritage as we look forward to the future of Colorado agriculture.” 

Preserving agriculture, connecting 4-H and Colorado agriculture

Dane Devries, current 4-H vice president, shows a steer at a county fair.
Dane Devries, Colorado State 4-H Vice President, with his steer. Photo Credit: Dane Devries.

Dane Devries serves as the Colorado State 4-H Vice President. After twelve years of involvement with Colorado 4-H, Devries understands the value of a 4-H presence at the stock show.  

 “4-H Day at the National Western Stock Show means the preservation of the agricultural and livestock industries that the western United States has thrived on,” said Devries. “4-H Day is special because it represents a close tie between each organization through the showing of livestock. Each 4-H member and each exhibitor at the stock show puts time, money, effort, blood, sweat and tears into their animals.” 

Highlights of 4-H Day at the Stock Show

STEM activities for youth and families

During 4-H Day, Colorado State 4-H Officers and Colorado 4-H Shooting Sports Ambassadors along with State 4-H Specialists will be present from 9 am-12 pm on the 3rd Floor of the National Western Stock Show Complex (also known as the Hall of Education) to answer questions about 4-H. Attendees are invited to learn more about 4-H from current participants and engage in hands-on STEM activities.  

4-H Day at the Pro Rodeo

Each year on 4-H Day, the 15-member State 4-H Officer team attends the stock show and rodeo. The 4-H Day Pro Rodeo starts at 1:30 pm on the 14th and will feature the Pikes Peak Range Riders & Rangerettes, rodeo clown, Justin Rumford, the Westernaires presented by Sunward Steel & Catch-A-Calf Catch presented by Martin/Martin Consulting Engineers.  


The National Western Stock Show has hosted the Catch-A-Calf contest for over 80 years. The program teaches youth, including Colorado 4-H’ers, valuable agricultural and livestock skills. Youth that successfully catch a calf are then responsible for raising, feeding and caring for the calf for the next year. Youth then return to the stock show one year later and enter it as a market-ready steer. The Grand and Reserve Grand Champion participants sell their steers at the Auction of Junior Livestock Champions held on the final Friday of the Stock Show. Colorado 4-H youth as well as youth participants from Kansas, Nebraska and Wyoming compete in the annual Catch-A-Calf program. In just over 80 years the Catch-A-Calf Contest has awarded nearly 3,000 steers to 4-H members hailing from the western United States. 

Catch-a-Calf Program at the National Western Stock Show. Photo Credit: National Western Stock Show.
Catch-a-Calf Program at the National Western Stock Show. Photo Credit: National Western Stock Show.
4-Her Benny Shader won a calf and a trip to Hollywood. Photo: CSU Archives & Special Collections
4-H'er Ben Shader won a calf and a trip to Hollywood in the 1941 Catch-a-Calf competition. Photo Credit: CSU Archives & Special Collections

Looking forward

The National Western Stock Show kicks off two weeks of family-friendly fun this Friday, Jan. 8, 2022. CSU has a prominent presence throughout the event, including the popular Ag Adventure, where guests of all ages can engage with agriculture alongside CSU College of Agricultural Sciences students serving as “Ag Tour Guides” through the interactive exhibit. Each year, more than 20,000 people visit the Ag Adventure during the stock show’s run.

On Jan. 14 scores of people will attend 4-H Day at the stock show, a Colorado State University tradition, and on Jan. 15, the university will kick off a host of new traditions and a new era of partnership with the stock show with the opening CSU Spur, a public education destination at the National Western Center. With three buildings—Vida, Terra and Hydro—delivering programs centered around health, food and water, the CSU system campus will serve as a hub of education, innovation and community engagement.  

Attend 4-H Day at the Stock Show on Jan. 14

Everyone is invited to 4-H Day on Jan. 14. Plan your adventure and get your tickets at  nationalwestern.com.

Attend CSU Spur grand opening on Jan. 15

CSU Spur officially opens its doors on January 15, 2022 with the first building—Vida—open to the public. With programs focused on animal and human health, Vida will include a new Dumb Friends League Veterinary Hospital, the Temple Grandin Equine Center, a CSU Equine Sports Medicine Clinic, virtual reality experiences teaching human and animal anatomy, and multiple displays about health and related careers. Learn more and register to attend at CSUSpur.org  

About Colorado 4-H

4-H is America’s largest youth development organization. Colorado 4-H serves over 110,000 youth annually, helping them to become confident, independent, resilient and compassionate leaders. For over 100 years, Colorado 4-H has provided experiences where young people learn by doing in hands-on projects in areas including health, science, agriculture and citizenship. Colorado 4-H is delivered by CSU Extension. Learn more at Colorado4H.org