A small cheering section eagerly watched a group of Ranchers at the Independence County Fair as they sternly yet gently guided animals through the show barn. Ranch houseparents, staff members, board member Tyler Griffin and his wife Monica, and Batesville School District administrators patiently awaited the Ranchers’ turns to show lambs. Shirts tucked in, belt buckles shining, and boots polished, the children and teens understood the serious nature of the occasion.
There’s a big difference between a show barn at the fair and the barn at the Ranch where the Ranchers care for the animals daily in muck boots and ball caps. These Ranchers had invested hours in their animals and in themselves; it showed.
Show season preparation
The Ranchers began preparing for show season months prior, breeding rabbits and caring for sheep all year long. The Ranchers currently only show two types of animals: Holland Lops rabbits and market lambs. Under the supervision of Chief Operations Officer, Philip Ives, the Ranchers who choose to join Show Team must participate in daily care of the animals. Daily care includes grooming, feeding, and exercising them. In addition, they must clean stalls and change rabbit pens.
This isn’t easy or enjoyable work, but through hands-on involvement in maintaining and preparing animals for show season, Ranchers gain life skills and soft skills which transfer to the workplace. The Ranchers acquire a greater sense of responsibility through caring for their own animals day after day. They learn to collaborate well with other members of the show team. Ranchers also become more humble and able to accept constructive criticism from staff and fair judges. Other life skills and soft skills gained include public speaking and presentation skills, time management, punctuality, animal husbandry, communication skills (verbal and nonverbal), and work ethic. Also, the Ranchers gain pride, confidence, intrinsic motivation, and physical strength.
Show season results
The life skills and soft skills gained through Ranch Show Team participation can ward off depression, anxiety, and boredom. Some Ranchers who struggled with these symptoms during the COVID pandemic expressed a greater sense of purpose, self-worth, and accomplishment at the end of show season. Struggling children and teens specifically cited Show Team participation as the reason for their improved outlook. This finding is not unique to Ranchers’ experience. Many hobbies, team projects, and group activities can improve physical health, lower stress levels, and lower levels of anxiety and depression.
Ranchers don’t just participate in the local Independence County Fair in June. They are also currently preparing for district fair in Melbourne in September and for state fair in Little Rock in October. The Ranch Show Team is currently gearing up for the continued show season and looks forward to district and state fair opportunities to share their hard work with others.
How can you help?
The average total cost per animal for show season is $1000. If you want to support the Ranch Show Team, you can make a financial contribution to offset costs of feed, transportation to fairs, show supplies, entry fees, animal purchasing, vet costs, medication, and show wear for Ranchers. We are incredibly grateful for your support in helping build Ranchers’ confidence and skills through the Ranch Show Team.
For more information about the Ranch Show Team or to find out which items the Show Team currently needs, please contact COO Philip Ives at 870-793-6841.