Blood, sweat and steers for
by Misty Volaski
Charlene McCord is what most people would call well rounded.
She's done a bit of everything, including participating in everything
from food drives to the Citrus Valley 4-H Club to Nordhoff High
School's music program.
Since graduating in July as Nordhoff's co-valedictorian, McCord
has been anticipating attending the University of California
at Los Angeles in the fall.
During the last few weeks, however, her focus has been on preparing
her steer, Mac, for the Ventura County Fair. A member of 4-H
for the past nine years, McCord has entered several different
animals into the fair, including pygmy goats, pigs and horses.
"Our goat always did really well. He was grand champion
a few years in a row. We didn't sell him, though. He'd come home
with us and he was like our little dog," she laughed.
This year, her steer did fairly well, placing third in the fair.
After placing first in its weight class, her steer went on to
win the reserve champion for the 4-H class. From there, all the
other groups' top two came together for what could be called
the finals, and McCord came out with the third-best overall.
Mac's placement "just determines your place in the auction,"
McCord said. She sold Mac, she said, but for a lot less than
she expected. "The grand champion only went for $4 per pound.
I've never seen it go for anything under $10 a pound," she
Though it's sometimes hard to let go of her animals, McCord said
that she has learned over the years to prepare herself for the
time when she had to sell the animals.
"A few people have pulled their animals from the auction.
But for me, it helps to know that a lot of the animals go to
Food Share, so you know you're helping people," Charlene
added. "And you know you're providing people with good quality
meat, without hormones or anything like that."
Animals, Charlene said, have always been a big part of her life.
In 1992, her family moved to Ojai from Ventura, in search of
a house where they could keep their numerous animals on their
own property. Ever since moving to Ojai, Charlene and her brother
Richie, 15, have been raising animals to show and sell.
Now that her 4-H days are nearly over, Charlene is looking forward
to a new goal: attaining a degree from UCLA in microbiology and
Where did the idea for that major come from? Every year, Charlene
explained, Nordhoff's science department joins Amgen to put on
what is known as the Amgen Lab, where Amgen brings its latest
technology to the classroom. Inspired by the high-tech atmosphere
and "what is possible," Charlene read up on the concept
of molecular genetics, and decided to make it her major. "When
I tell people my major, a lot of times they'll ask, 'Oh, you're
going to clone things?' But it kind of freaks me out when people
try to play God," Charlene said. "I don't know what
I'm going to do with my major just yet, maybe med school, I'm
not sure. I just want to be successful and happy."
So Charlene will soon be off again, ready to achieve more goals
that most people would find impossible. But for Charlene "You
get out what you put into it. That's why the work is worth it."
© 2002 The Ojai Valley News
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