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Fairs give Goddard student opportunity to teach others

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After about six years of participating in numerous fairs in many different activities, Mackenzie Trammell, right, is taking more of a mentorship and leadership role. She helps her brother and two sisters, including Caitlynn, left, who also shows animals. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

Livestock judging was over and Friday was a “rest day” for the youth showing animals at the Eastern New Mexico State Fair, before the junior livestock auction.

For many youth, whether their animals made the show or not, they will be at the ring today for the sale.

“A lot of my friends got into the sale, so I’ll be there to support them,” said Mackenzie Trammell, a Goddard High School sophomore, FFA member and Diamond H 4-H Club member. “Also, if we go, more buyers might be there in coming years to support us so that we can continue growing.”

Six years of fair participation has meant that Trammell, 15, has earned a wall full of ribbons, some trophies and a “Best of Barn” award for her rabbits at the 2016 Chaves County 4-H and FFA Fair.

This fair, she and her family said, the competition was intense, with a large number of entries, so her showings of lambs, rabbits and a dairy heifer were not as strong. But she is philosophical about the experience.

“A lot of the good stories in life, even if you don’t show animals, are stories from the fair,” she said. “You learn from your mistakes, and you come back and you can win another year maybe.”

Trammell, who plans to become a doctor, has a brother, Adrian, 11, and two sisters, Caitlynn, 13, and Savannah, 9, who also raise animals and enter other types of exhibits in fairs. Mackenzie has showed sewing and beading work in the past and has worked with many different types of animals over the years. (Her favorites are dairy heifers, which she calls “big puppy dogs.”)

Their father, Jody Trammell, who used to raise and show livestock as a youth, said he doesn’t care how his children choose to participate. He said what matters are character-building lessons, including responsibility, teamwork and putting something ahead of themselves.

Trammell participates throughout New Mexico, as well as in other states, in all sorts of 4-H and FFA competitions. She has several reasons for doing so, including the friendships, the fun and the money she can earn from the sale of the animals for college. She also said she likes to talk to fair visitors, especially youth.

“Normally about this time, we have kindergartners come,” she said. “It helps me to help them understand where their food comes from.” She also said that she feels agriculture and showing livestock are central to U.S. culture and that she likes to share that with others.

Today she and her family will be at the fair and said they will be willing to answer the public’s questions about their animals.

Now that she has years of experience, Mackenzie is more involved in mentoring others, including her siblings. And she said she appreciates different aspects about the fair. This year, she said, perhaps because some of the competitions she enters are livestock judging contests, she has gained a greater appreciation of the role of judges.

“They work four to six hours a day,” she said, “and they aren’t just doing it for a check. It is about teaching the kids, and they are working with them to help them learn.”

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.