Shamrock shaped image with a photo of a meat fridge
Three Bears Alaska Supports 4-H
By Julie Stricker,
UAF Cooperative Extension Service

n early August, John Green, the meat buyer for Three Bears Alaska grocery chain, was in a familiar spot: the arena at a local 4-H livestock auction.

Before the Kenai Peninsula Ag Expo ended, Green purchased the grand champion beef, champion medium weight hog, reserve champion medium weight hog, and market lamb.

Within a few days, the animals had been processed and were available at the Kenai and just-opened Sterling Three Bears stores. The refrigerated stand holding the meat was draped with banners displaying the 4-H clover and a sign that told shoppers the meat had come from members of the Kenai Peninsula District 4-H at the 2022 Junior Market Livestock Auction.

Green says he started buying livestock raised by 4-H members more than twenty years ago when he worked for another local grocery chain, and he took the practice with him when he joined Three Bears seventeen years ago.

“It’s just good for the community. It’s good for the kids,” he says. “It’s just a way to give back.”

His budget in the early days was about $2,500, but Three Bears now spends considerably more than that at the 4-H auctions.

On September 3, Green and other Three Bears meat buyers were ringside at the 4-H & FFA Junior Market Livestock Auction at the Alaska State Fair in Palmer. Overall, forty-five buyers spent $270,820 for ninety animals. Three Bears spent $31,930.

Shonia Werner, longtime KP 4-H parent and one of the auction coordinators, says, “One of the most exciting times during the auction is when Three Bears meets a bidder willing to match their bids. The crowd loves the energy they bring!”

“I think we’re probably the biggest spender at the fair,” Green says. “We’re also the only grocery store that is actually buying the product and being able to offer it back to the kids and to the public.”

He continues, “So far, it’s worked out really, really good for us. And, you know, we just enjoy doing it every year. It’s fun.”