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Livestock lessons: Fowler on food security

By Dana Hantel

The Monongalia County fair is canceled this year, but the Youth Livestock Show and Auction will go on. These events, set for  Friday and Saturday at Mylan Park Monongalia Extension  Services & 4-H Center, are free and open to the public.

Young people across the county are preparing, and a few of them, along with their parents, share their experiences raising and showing livestock in this three-part series.

Kody Fowler

Six miles out Kingwood Pike is Mountain View Drive, which is flanked by  green meadows. Kody Fowler, along with two rabbits and a chicken, are at the end of a long gravel drive leading to Hasenpfeffer Farms.  

Fowler started the business 10 years ago, when he was just 13. Now he’s about to begin his senior year at Fairmont State, where he studies national security. He plans to continue his studies at WVU and to earn  master’s and  doctorate degrees. He’d like to work for a government agency, buy some acreage and be self-sufficient.

Fowler is interested in the intersections between national security and food security. He said it’s unfortunate that “food is not as highly regarded as critical infrastructure as other things,” such as roads and utilities. He said we should consider where our food comes from and ask ourselves, “How self-sufficient are we?”

He still breeds and shows rabbits and chickens, and he also donates rabbits to help kids get their own agricultural projects started. He believes  raising and showing livestock can keep young people out of trouble and also teach them valuable lessons, like how to be responsible.

“You’re caring for something other than yourself. The animals rely on you.”


He said FFA in particular “offers great opportunities to work on yourself” and “to connect with people.”

As he talks about  how he was “a quiet kid” before FFA helped him gain confidence,  rabbits relax in a portable cage  and a chicken clucks softly, taking advantage of a shady spot under a shrub.

When asked why folks should buy local meat like the rabbit meat he produces, Fowler said, “It helps maintain animal well-being. It is less than desirable how big companies treat their animals.”

He added that how well animals are cared for even makes a big difference in the quality of the meat.

The conversation shifts back to policy.

“I’d like to see policies that encourage locally grown foods instead of heavily processed food. I’d like to see agricultural programs expanded in high schools.”

He describes farm-to-table programs in which “school cafeterias are supplied with locally grown foods, which are better for students.” At the same time, students are given opportunities to grow vegetables on school grounds.

In addition to supporting policies and programs that help local agriculture thrive, Fowler said  people who are interested in learning more about farming should reach out to the Monongalia-WVU Extension Office, saying it’s  “a good, reliable source of information.”

He said “FFA is a great program” and encouraged youth not to shy away from participating.

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This is the first in a three-part series about the Youth Livestock Show and Auction set for Friday and Saturday at Monongalia Extension Center, focusing on those who participate. The full schedule can be found at