FFA Member Creates Livestock Show for Special Needs Participants

By |2019-07-15T14:47:09-05:00July 15th, 2019|FFA New Horizons, Living to Serve, The Feed|

When Kylie Ramirez started working on her Living to Serve plan at the Washington Leadership Conference last summer, she was still searching for the right idea.

“I wanted to do something that had a big impact,” she recalls.

Ramirez, a junior at West Holmes High School in Millersburg, Ohio, had no idea she was about to embark on a project that would change lives.

Kylie’s brother, Ryan, will participate in the livestock show.

The Be You Livestock Show, an event that invites participants with special needs to show animals at the fair, debuts at the Holmes County Fair this summer.

Ramirez presented the idea to the Holmes County Fair board and got unanimous approval. From there, she started recruiting participants, reaching out to the school superintendent to get permission to present to special education classes in the district, posting information on social media and working with the Holmes County Training Center, a school and workshop for individuals with developmental disabilities. So far, seven people have signed up, ranging in age from 6 to 33.

“My goal is 20 participants,” Ramirez says. “It’s a really high number, but I think we can do it.”

West Holmes FFA Advisor Jaime Chenevey thinks Ramirez can do it, too.

“When Kylie first told me about this project, I thought, ‘You can do this; you need to do this,’ ” Chenevey recalls. “She’s such a go-getter, and when you couple that with her passion for the idea, I knew she’d make it happen.”

Ramirez recruited FFA members who agreed to train their own animals for the show ring. Each member will be partnered with one of the participants to teach them about the animals and to offer tips for presenting to the judges. The livestock show will include pigs, rabbits and goats. Fellow FFA members will judge the event.

“I wanted to provide opportunities for special needs individuals to learn about animals and to show them at the fair. I wanted to show people that they have the capabilities to do everything that we can,” Ramirez says. “I also wanted to give FFA members a chance to shine, to get on the microphone as livestock judges and show off how much they know about the animals.”

Starting a brand-new livestock show has been a major undertaking. In addition to her roles in the National Honor Society, school band, student council, Junior Fair Board and FFA, Ramirez has also recruited sponsors and planned every aspect of the event.

When she feels overwhelmed, she remembers how much it means to the participants, including her brother, Ryan, who has Williams syndrome and Tourette’s syndrome.

“He wakes up every morning with a smile on his face, and he’s so excited about showing a rabbit at the livestock show,” she says. “I’m implementing everything I wrote down in my Living to Serve plan and feel so proud of that. I’m exhausted, but it’s worth it.”