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Poultry champion award a tribute to 4-H'er's legacy

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

(Photo)
Photos of J.D. Miller sit on display in the Poultry Barn Monday next to awards named in his honor. Miller died in December after a two-year battle with non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. [Order this photo]
GREENCASTLE -- The Poultry Barn was without a favorite face at the 4-H Poultry Show Monday, but even without his physical presence, J.D. Miller's memory was well received.

Miller died in December after a two-year battle with non-Hodgkins Lymphoma and was an active member of 4-H, even years after he was too old to compete.

To honor his passing, the Poultry Barn named its highest honor -- grand champion best of show -- after Miller, a former Putnam County Poultry Club president and barn superintendent. This year's J.D. Miller Memorial Best in Show went to Colton Cox of Bainbridge.

A member of the American Sumatra Association, Cox has been showing poultry as part of 4-H for six years and participates in no other projects. This year he showed five chickens and took Best in Show honors with his 4-year-old Sumatra hen.

"It means a lot that this award is in his honor and I'm the first to receive it," Cox said.

Levi Asher won poultry reserve champion, and Rachael Winters took grand champion honors for eggs.

Poultry Barn superintendent Jason Keeney looks back fondly on his memories of competing against J.D., who Keeney said was always such a strong, passionate competitor.

"We were in a lot of competition, friendly competition," Keeney said.

Keeney, also a former 4-H'er and poultry showman, said he always remembered J.D. was in the poultry tent -- before a poultry barn was added to the fairgrounds -- from sun up to sun down.

"He loved his birds and spending time on the farm," Keeney said, as he looked photos of J.D. and his chickens spread out on the judging table Monday.

J.D. had been active in 4-H and raised registered Shetland Sheep in addition to his chickens. He was also an avid volunteer, participating in the Up till Dawn organization with St. Jude Children's Hospital, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and the American Cancer Society and Relay for Life.

Even after his death in December, he's still giving back to the barn.

"He couldn't help in the barn after he started on chemo, but he wanted to sponsor for the next several years," Keeney said. "So the overall grand champion plaque is now sponsored in his honor."

Since the days of the poultry tent, the number of participants in poultry showmanship has been on the rise, something J.D. would have liked to have seen, Keeney said.

"We've seen classes filled up that aren't normally seen," Keeney said.

Terry Cox, assistant superintendent of the poultry barn and Colton's father, said there were around 300 entries in this year's competition, which is a little more than last year, he said. The barn also increased its membership by 10, he said.

Terry attributed the increase in popularity of the poultry barn to the size of the animals and the ability for participants to keep them easily in their backyards.

"Poultry in its different varieties are pretty simple to handle," he said. "They're not dragging you around like a steer."


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Thank you Banner for doing this story!

-- Posted by Fallgirl09 on Wed, Jul 28, 2010, at 7:50 AM

I love J.D. and he loved his chickens this is so beautiful....

-- Posted by BlackBarbie22 on Wed, Jul 28, 2010, at 8:36 AM


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