Encouraging Junior Showmanship

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While most cat fanciers quickly point to the younger generation of junior exhibitors as the "future of the cat fancy", unless we encourage youngsters by making it easier for them to become involved in the cat fancy and in particular in cat shows, we will fail to nourish the interest of the next generation.

How do we get more young people to participate in the Junior Showmanship classes?

It is not enough to simply advertise a JS class in your cat show flyer. If Junior Showmanship classes are to expand, cat clubs need to take an active role in recruiting and spreading the word to the younger generation.

Recruiting More Juniors

Where do we find kids who may possibly be interested in exhibiting a cat at a show?

  • The Family of Fanciers: The most obvious place to look for a future cat fancier is amongst the children of current cat show exhibitors. To provide an organized approach to recruiting from the younger set, each show club should create a list of its members with information about families with children. Actively campaign to have the kids become involved in JS. Share and exchange lists with other clubs. Place Junior Showmanship as a high priority on your club's list of things to do and improve.
  • 4H Clubs: 4H Clubs often have animal oriented programs with associated badges that kids can earn. Create and initiate a program that can lead to earning a "Show Cat Badge". Google your County Extension Service 4-H web site to obtain a list of the 4-H clubs in your local area.
  • Girl/Boy Scouts: Often listed in the yellow pages, Girl and Boy Scouts troops can be encouraged to become involved in cat shows beyond simply acting as stewards. Volunteer to speak at one of their meetings about Junior Showmanship classes and be prepared to facilitate educational activities or lessons to help the kids get started in showing a cat.
  • YMCA/YWCA: Approach your local YM/YWCA and see if you can post flyers about JS in kids classes. Perhaps there might be even interest in starting a cat showing class!
  • Masonic Youth Groups: Rainbow Girls, Job's Daughters and DeMolay are "self" supporting, masonic youth groups. This means the kids earn all the money needed to run their groups, so they often are looking new ways to finance projects. Suggest they become involved as stewards then segue into information about JS classes.

Education & Encouragement

Once you have a youngster interested in the possibility of showing in JS, your job is not done. In fact, it has just started. Hopefully you are prepared to take the extra step of helping to educate the kids so cat showing will be an interesting and positive experience.

  • Prepare & Present a program about Junior Showmanship
  • The program should cover such topics as:
    • Food
    • Veterinary care
    • Grooming
    • Showing
    • Spay & Neuter
    • Animal rights vs Animal Welfare
    • Volunteering at a shelter
    • Feral Colony management/Trap and release
    • How To Enter Attend A Cat Show: Let them know the upcoming shoe schedule. how to fill out an entry form correctly, show etiquette, etc
    • A Practice Cat Show: In the month before the show, hold a practice cat show so both the children and their cats have a chance to get "the feel" of a showing experience.
    • Alert the Media: Make sure the local media is aware of Junior Showmanship classes, the kids, and the show club's involvement in promoting JS. It makes for a great human interest story and good PR for both your cat show and cat fanciers in general.

Providing A Suitable Cat

Once kids are interested, they are going to need a cat. While some may have a Household Pet that is suitable and amendable to showing in the HHP class, most Juniors will need or want to show a pedigreed cat in the regular classes as well as the JS classes.

Be generous in having a kitten or retired show cat that you can donate to the cause, either temporarily or permanently. Canvas other breeders to find suitable cats to lend or donate to a JS exhibitor.

Support At The Show

Don't let the JS exhibitor get "lost" in the shuffle on show day. Provide awards. Have mentors available. Set up an email list before hand and let as many exhibitors as possible know that the club is trying to encourage Junior Showmanship and ask that all exhibitors make a special effort to welcome the youngsters. Suggest mentors. Be sure the kids have a positive experience by introducing them to other breeders, asking permission for them to handle different breeds and making sure their is an audience to cheer and applaud when they show their cat.

And if after all your efforts, one child may decide to become more involved in cat showing, you have made an impact on the future of the cat fancy!

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