For ten days every summer, Harrington, DE hosts the Delaware State Fair. In addition to the rides, food, and concerts, hundreds of FFA members from across the state of Delaware head to the fair to compete in various competitions. A group of students and advisors representing the Milford FFA Chapter were present again this year as they showed livestock, competed in Career Development Events and entered various entries such as vegetables, grains and other projects.
Every morning at 5:30am members of the Milford FFA were at the livestock barns to begin the daily care for their show animals including lambs, pigs and sheep. Milford FFA advisor and Animal Science teacher Judith Bruns assists students at the Delaware State Fair each year and states that in addition to becoming a classroom grade, these competitions are rewarding for many active members of the organization.
“It’s a way to reward the students as they have done a lot of work over the winter to prepare for Fair Week,” commented Bruns. “It also gives the students a new perspective of their work as judges critique them instead of their teacher. We can tend to be a little isolated in the barn at school and the fair competitions allow the students to see other students from other schools and connect their work to real experiences.”
Ms. Bruns acknowledges that the new agricultural barn, built at the Milford High School several year’s ago has been a great teaching tool for not only the members of FFA but for all of the students that are enrolled in the Animal Science curriculum. The agricultural barn allows students to temporarily house livestock for educational purposes and experience the life cycle of several animals at once.
At this year’s Fair Brielle Hemstedt showed her ram, which she has taken care of year-round for two years. The animal placed as the Grand Champion Ram. Brielle has been a member of the Milford FFA since she was in eighth grade and has competed in several competitions. Her family owns a farm in Lincoln, DE where they raise animals including horses, alpaca, llama and chickens. She is quick to share that the FFA organization has made her into a ‘smarter farmer.’
“When you are a small farmer at home you do not get to see farming on a larger scale,” said Brielle. “[At the Fair] you get to see how others take care of large numbers of animals and can learn from their experiences.” She also states that FFA and the Delaware State Fair have engrained in her the necessity of hard work that comes along with seeking farming as a profession.”You learn how to make sacrifices and to put your animal ahead of your own needs.”
Noemi Santizo presented her ewe at the Fair this year as she won the title of Grand Champion. Not from a farming family, Noemi joined the FFA in ninth grade to ‘seek a new experience.’ “I love taking care of the animals, they grow along with you and learn to trust you.”
Both Brielle and Noemi have raised these animals for two years from lambs to grown ram and ewe as they took care of the animals during all seasons. In addition to these two animals, FFA and Animal Science students at Milford High School brought 7 lambs, 13 sheep and 10 pigs to the Delaware State Fair this year for competition.