Everyone who participates in the Special Livestock Show walks away a winner, said Paige Melton, Victoria County’s AgriLife Extension Agent for 4-H and Youth Development.
In 2016, Melton and Jackie Parsons, manager of the Mission Valley 4-H Club, started this event as a way to give special needs children the experience of showing an animal.
They’ve since expanded it into a mentor program.
“This gives the 4-H club and FFA members the opportunity to work with someone who isn’t quite like them,” Melton said. “It gets them out of competition mode to give back.”
Special needs children can choose a lamb, goat, rabbit or steer to show that belongs to a 4-H or FFA member. They can go to that member’s house as often as they like to help raise the animal or they can simply show the animal at the Victoria Community Center, Melton said.
She said organizers like to pair the special- needs children with mentors in October, but, unfortunately, bad weather caused a low attendance.
They had five participants as of late January, but she was hopeful more special needs children will sign up either the day before or on the day of the show.
“We have plenty of kids who are willing to allow us to use their animal and be a mentor on the day of, so absolutely we can take kids on the day of,” she said.
Everyone walks away with a purple ribbon.
“We’ve had great sponsorship the past couple of years with T-shirts, breakfast and ribbons provided,” Melton said.
She couldn’t pick a favorite memory of the show.
“I mean, they’ve all really touched me,” Melton said. “You can see true joy on their face, whether they stand by an animal or walk it in the ring by themselves. That’s just something that’s priceless.”