For most of his young adult life, Tyler Gerke has known many constants, one of those being the love of the family farm and raising livestock.
For the past 11 years, Gerke has been raising and showing livestock and his efforts have paid off in multiple ways.
Monday, during the Pettis County Junior Livestock Show and Sale, he was awarded five Grand Champion or Reserve Grand Champion awards for his pigs and cattle.
“I have been showing since I was 8 years old,” Gerke said. “I just love to do it. I always have.”
The two-day event, hosted at the Missouri State Fairgrounds, saw 114 members representing the Pettis County Future Farmers of America and Pettis County 4-H chapters show animals in seven classes: poultry, rabbits, dairy goats, beef, swine, goats and lambs.
Gerke shows as a FFA member and can continue to do so for two more years.
“Tyler has been showing since I have been in the area,” Matt Bax, Smithton agriculture education instructor and FFA adviser, said. “He started with steers and then branched out into pigs.
“He served as the president of our FFA chapter,” Bax added. “He is just a very hard-working, dedicated young man.”
David Dick, treasurer of the Pettis County Livestock Association, has known Gerke since birth and made similar comments about Gerke.
“I’ve known Tyler’s grandparents and his parents for years,” Dick said. “He comes from a good, strong family of hard-working honest people.
“Both Tyler and his older brother Adam have always played a role in the community and they are willing to do anything to help another. You can see that in the way he presents his animals and the way he presents himself.”
Others have noticed the manner in which he presents himself as well.
“Each year we give a showmanship award at the Livestock Show and Sale,” Kay Sparks, MU Extension and 4-H Youth Specialist, said. “Every year that Tyler has been eligible for the award he has won it in both the beef and swine classes.”
Sparks, whose children have grown up with and competed against Gerke, also thinks Gerke is a role model for others.
“Tyler has served on the 4-H Advisory Council,” Sparks said. “Whenever there is something that needs to be done, he does it. He is a great role model who is responsible and always follows through.”
Gerke has shown his livestock at other shows throughout the area, including the American Royal.
“This is all I’ve ever really wanted to do,” Gerke said. “I love farming and raising livestock. I want to make it my life’s work.”
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484