Karli Schwerdtfeger started showing pigs at the young age of two-years-old. She has traveled the country exhibiting her animals and continues to be involved in her family’s farm. She lives in Stratford, Oklahoma with her parents and her older brother.
Real Pig Farming: What other activities are you involved in?
Karli Schwerdtfeger: I am involved with the FFA, which gives me the opportunities of livestock judging, speech competitions and much more. I serve as the 2019–2020 Secretary in the Stratford FFA chapter. I am also a Stratford High School cheerleader where I cheer on the Bulldogs through football and basketball.
RPF: Tell me about yourself — what’s your background in the agriculture industry?
KS: My dad introduced me to livestock showing when I was little and I’ve learned so much ever since. The barn is always where I want to be. Along with taking care of my pigs, I always help my family with our business that raises pigs for other kids to show. I love helping with the baby pigs and it has given me a deeper appreciation for showing livestock.
RPF: How has the National Junior Swine Association (NJSA) impacted you?
KS: I have been showing with the NJSA for the past 13 years and love attending each of the shows that they host. The NJSA is where I truly found my passion for livestock judging when I won second place high individual in the novice division at the Southwest Regional in 2013. This aspect of meeting new people is so important to me; having a livestock show family is the best thing I can ask for. I know that I will always have a family away from home and they have a special place in my heart.
RPF: What is your favorite breed of pigs?
KS: I like Hampshires!
RPF: What’s been the most rewarding experience about showing livestock?
KS: This organization truly takes a family effort, which brings my family so much closer. I have been blessed to have such a hardworking and caring family. Our family motto is that we win as a family and lose as a family but we still thank God for the opportunity.
When I won the Oklahoma Youth Expo in 2016, it truly was a big accomplishment for our family. My Grandpa “Poppy” was there to share the rewarding experience with us. The first thing he said when I got out of the show ring was, “I am so proud of you, our family has been working towards this for a long time now and Karli. You did it.” This was the best feeling I could ever have. My family supports me, and I have made them proud. This past year at the Oklahoma Youth Expo, I had the Reserve Breed Champion Hampshire Barrow. My Grandma and Grandpa (“Maw Maw and Paw Paw”) were there to support me. To show these people, who mean so much to me, how much hard work and determination it takes to be a part of this organization is a blessing of its own. The way this organization brings families together is the most rewarding thing I can ask for.
RPF: Why is it important to be involved in a youth organization like the National Junior Swine Association?
KS: The opportunities it gives young people like me are countless. Through the NJSA I was paired with my mentor, Lexi Marek, who boosted me up as a young showman and became a great friend. It is not just about showing pigs; it’s about building leaders, making connections and building character. The NJSA holds livestock shows all over the United States, which gives many opportunities to people across the country.
RPF: What’s one thing you want people to know about pig farming?
KS: It’s not for the faint at heart. Pig farming can be both humbling and challenging but with hard work and dedication it can also be rewarding. Being on both sides of the spectrum, showing and in the genetics aspect of it, you see the rewarding moments in the show ring and then the challenging moments behind the scenes at home.
RPF: What are your goals for the future? Where do you see yourself in five years?
KS: In five years I plan to be a sophomore in college. I hope to be on a livestock judging team, making my dad proud and following his footsteps in agriculture.