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4-H program lets you apply to raise heritage sheep

By William and Matthew Jones
Rowan County 4-Hers
Last spring, my brother and I attended a sheep showmanship class to learn the basics of sheep care because we were thinking of acquiring some for our farm. It was at this class that we learned about the Youth Conservationist Program (YCP).
The YCP is an organization that promotes heritage sheep by giving away free ewe lambs or yearlings to youth ages 9 to 18 via an essay contest. The essay needs to cover several topics and introduce the participant by telling about his experience with animals.
If the participant plans to keep his sheep anywhere other than at his house, the intention needs to be clearly expressed and the participant must explain the responsibilities he will have for the sheep. The participant must explain his interest in sheep and must answer the question, “Why I would like to preserve a heritage breed of sheep.”
The applicant should also indicate if he would like to be considered for a certain breed of sheep or if any breed offered will be acceptable. The essay must include the entrant’s address, phone number and if possible, email address. Essays must be less than two pages long. Each applicant must include a letter of recommendation from a 4-H adviser, FFA adviser, teacher, veterinarian or clergy.
Applicants selected to receive a ewe will be notified by April 22. Winners of the sheep and their parents must be present at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival on Sunday, May 6, to pick up their sheep. Essays for this year’s contest must be postmarked by April 1.
Sheep winners must agree to exhibit the ewe at least twice in 2012, at a county fair and at the state fair. The winner must agree to breed the ewe lamb to a registered ram of her breed in the fall of 2012. Additionally, the winner must shear the ewe and either use the fleece to make a woolen item or sell the fleece to a spinner, felter or weaver.
The winner must also write and submit a newspaper article about the YCP and the experience he has had with his sheep. Finally, winners need to submit a one or two page report with pictures to his donor breeder by April 30, 2013, and a copy to the coordinator of the YCP.
We have had a fun-filled learning experience with the Scottish Blackface yearling ewe and Tunis ewe we won.
More information about the contest is at http://youthconservationistprogram.blogspot. com/
William and Matthew Jones are 4-Hers in Rowan County.

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