Our final Grow to Show Spotlight is Tiara Palmer and her lamb, Absity. Tiara is a 9th grader at Ephrata High School she plays softball and basketball and is a member of the Ephrata High School Future Farmers of America club; also known as FFA.
Tiara joined FFA 3 years ago. Her oldest sister Danica, who is currently a barn intern for the Ephrata FFA Club introduced her to FFA when Tiara was in 7th grade. The Ephrata FFA club has a barn on campus at the high school that has a 20 year history of housing animals for their FFA members. This is where Tiara houses her lamb, because she lives within city limits Tiara would not have the opportunity to do this if it weren’t for having the FFA barn available to her at school. Ephrata FFA Director, Terra Smith, stated that roughly 75% of the kids enrolled do not come from a farming background and live in the city where they cannot house an animal on their property. The on campus barn affords them the ability to become a part of the agriculture community despite not growing up on a farm.
Tiara feeds Absity twice a day in the morning and afternoon. Her goal is for her to gain 1-1/2 pounds a day and weigh about 135 pounds come Fair. She weighs her once a week to make sure she is gaining just the right amount of weight and will put her on a diet if need be. She makes sure to brush her wool once a week and will wash and sheer her before the Fair. To prepare for Fair she must train her lamb to get accustomed to its halter and walk being led by a rope. She explained that in the show ring, “you always want to keep the lamb between you and the judge”. There are proper positioning stances that she will be judged on and must practice driving the lamb to position her correctly.
Along with raising her animal she is enrolled in an agriculture class and must attend monthly meetings and weekly morning meetings. In order to be eligible to auction her lamb she must create an educational poster pertaining to her lamb. Tiara also attends FFA competitions throughout the school year where she is involved in events such as floral competitions, tractor driving and potato judging. FFA has over 32 different career development events that members can take part in. She will be entering the tractor driving division at this year’s Fair where she will demonstrate her skills and precision in operating farm machinery in under 2 minutes.
What Tiara loves most about FFA is the experiences she’s been a part of along the way, traveling for competitions, and taking care of animals. Prior to enrolling in FFA she didn’t have any knowledge on how to care for livestock but she has grown and learned so much about agriculture throughout the past three years thanks to the FFA program. With the Grant County Fair just around the corner you may find Tiara in the sheep barn caring for Absity or driving a tractor so be sure to say hello!