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Amid the rapid patter of prices for animals at Saturday's Linn County Youth Livestock Auction the auctioneer would occasionally encourage buyers to be a bit more generous.

“Remember what it’s for, people,” he said.

For 16-year-old Lauren Graber, who brought a 225-pound hog to the auction, selling an animal mostly means she can afford to keep doing animal projects with her Future Farmers of America group.

Graber, who will be a senior at Lebanon High School this fall, said her goal is to become a veterinarian and the skills she’s gained raising animals through FFA projects has really helped prepare her for the field.

More than just animal-handling skills, she said the projects also have taught her about finance and helped her develop social skills, because having positive interactions with buyers can help the animal fetch a good price.

She said auction day has mixed emotions for her — since the auction is a terminal show — and it’s hard for her to say goodbye to animals she has raised since they were little.

Graber estimated she spends more than 10 hours a week caring for her animals, including feeding, washing and socializing them so she can show them at competitions.

She added that she encourages other kids interested in animals to get involved in FFA or 4-H.

“It’s all a grand old time,” she said of raising animals.

Graber was one of hundreds of Linn County youths to bring animals to the auction this year, which was held during the final day of the Linn County Fair

Autumn Suing, a 12-year-old from Lebanon, brought a 1,408-pound steer to the auction that she has been raising since October.

“I bring them to market because it pays for my college fund. I want to be a veterinarian so I need to raise a lot of money,” she said.

Suing, a member of the 4-H group called “If the Hoof Fits,” said in the three years she has brought steers to market she’s been able to save $8,000 to $10,000 for college.

She said she has to put in one to two hours a day working with her animals, including developing enough of a relationship with them that she can get them to do what she wants when she shows them.

“It’s kind of hard dragging around a 1,000-pound animal,” she said.

Suing said market day can be kind of stressful up until the auction and it can be kind of sad afterwards.

“You auction them off and you know what’s going to happen to them,” she said.

She said it can be important to balance connecting with your animal so you can show them and keeping enough emotional distance from them to sell them.

Ella Miller, who brought a market goat to auction this year, said she breeds her goats so she’s known them their whole lives before the auction.

“I love raising them and I love breeding them and am always working to improve my project,” she said.

Miller, who has shown goats since she was 8, said even after all these years the auction can be nerve-wracking.

“It’s always stressful because not a lot of people come to buy the goats. My main goal is to at least make back what it cost to raise them,” she said.

Miller, a junior at Stayton High School, said she works with her animals two and a half to three hours a day.

She said raising animals has taught her responsibility.

“I’ve learned you get out of it what you put into it,” she said.

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Anthony Rimel covers weekend events, education, courts and crime and can be reached at anthony.rimel@lee.net, 541-812-6091, or via Twitter @anthonyrimel.

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