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Casner shares some laughs with a project pig in McVeytown, Pa.

MCVEYTOWN, Pa. — Lexie Casner is a 4-H champion who broke her own record at this year’s Mifflin County Youth Fair.

In 2021, Lexie set the record for winning overall showman in three species categories. This year, she won in five.

During the past four years, Lexie has been grand champion in the dairy feeder showman category. She also won the grand champion showman award in goats one year, in lambs for two years, and in beef for four years. She also was the overall class showman for grand champion pigs. In 2021, she won supreme showman for all the different species which competed.

This year, Lexie won the following long list of awards at the Youth Fair: overall grand champion market goat, overall grand champion showman market goat, grand champion market hog, overall grand champion market hog showman, reserve grand champion dairy feeder, overall grand champion dairy feeder showman, overall grand champion market lamb, overall grand champion market lamb showman, overall grand champion market steer, overall grand champion market steer showman.

Lexie topped off the fair when she was named Mifflin County Youth fair queen.

“This is her sport,” said Lexie’s mom, Betsy Casner, “This is what she lives to do.”

Lexie, 17, is a senior at Mifflin County High School and has been with 4-H since the age of 8.

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“I started with the dog club,” she said and talked about how she moved on to market animals. In 2016 she was the dairy feeder grand champion. She had a goat she showed for a while, but then gave up showing goats temporarily.

“I started showing big beef five years ago, then lambs four years ago,” Lexie said.

It was her steer in 2020 that ignited a new passion. The judge at the fair gave Lexie contact info with a beef farm in Cassville. It was there that she was asked to show heifers at Jackpot shows. In 2021 and 2022, Lexie traveled to Jackpot shows in Virginia and Pennsylvania.

But Lexie’s road to success has not always been easy.

Negative comments and feedback during her performances and a long list of livestock sicknesses and setbacks only strengthened her.

“The success she has had was not given to her. She worked hard. She worked several hours a day and it paid off for her,” said Betsy.

This year, the day after tag-ins, the family came home to find Lexie’s goat, Jack, stuck in a hay feeder. He did not survive. Lexie’s dairy feeder, Blu, had an elbow injury and was put on pen rest for two months. The vet indicated that the animal might not survive. Blu did survive, however.

A pig belonging to her brother had pneumonia, and did not make it to fair despite surviving the virus.

Lexie finds a way to look past the hard times and focus on the positives. She names all of her animals after various cheeses, just for fun. Her goats were Colby and Jack. Her steer was Cooper. Her hog’s name was Gouda, her dairy feeder’s name was Blu and her lamb was Muenster.

It’s the beef, not the cheese, that motivates her the most.

The beef cattle are her passion, by far.

“They are so big and they just get a bad rap,” Lexie said. “ They have a lot of personality to them. People think they’re mean. But if you treat them right, they’ll give you some respect.”

Her mom noted that Lexie’s love for livestock and 4-H is relentless.

“She has integrity, work ethic and love. And her love is evident, because I have animal hair in my room she wants me to save so she can make bracelets,” Betsy said.

Lexie has been the Big Valley FFA vice president for the past two years. She also received a youth loan from the USDA out of Mifflintown.

Looking ahead, Lexie wants to apply to Delaware Valley University and major in animal science and agriculture education. Her dream is to be a judge in future fairs.

Tabitha Goodling is a freelance writer in central Pennsylvania.

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