WAXAHACHIE — An observation at the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo was the beginning of an inspiration for one Ellis County 4-H member.
“I was at the Fort Worth Show and saw a special needs person showing. I thought why can't we do this for everyone in Ellis County," Anna Arnold said.
Arnold then pitched the idea to put on a show for local special needs students during the annual Ellis County Youth Expo to Ellis County Agriculture Extension Agent and 4-H coordinator, Megan Parr.
“She thought it was a great idea and we put on our first show last year,” Arnold said. “This year’s show doubled from last year’s show with over 100 special needs kids and 280 volunteers.”
Parr added, “We were going to cap it at 65 and then it grew to 85. Before we knew it, we had grown to over 108 students. It was a great turnout, and I hope we continue to grow and the community continues to support it. It is an awesome thing for not just the special needs kids, but also for the FFA students that were involved.”
Students from the various Ellis County 4-H and FFA chapters assisted with the program. After meeting with the kid they would be working with, the students then went back into the pin area to introduce the special needs kids to the animals and teach the finer points of showing in a ring.
When the time came to enter the ring, both students and their mentors entered the ring to show off their new show skills.
“I’ve said it many times before — these 4-H and FFA members are second to none. They are the definitely the best kids in the world and are willing to step in and do whatever is needed. So they stepped up today to make this day special for these special needs students,” said show judge Rylie Williams.
While having already been a showman for several years, Arnold has shown in rabbits, lambs, goats and pigs in both FFA and 4-H.
“I felt that the larger animals would be somewhat of a liability risk. But maybe someday we will work on it,” Arnold said.
After showing, each of the guest students received a show medal and was given a blue show ribbon by Williams.