Trumbull students raising blue-ribbon animals

Students at the Trumbull High School Agriscience and Biotechnology Center recently exhibited their livestock at the Durham Fair and at the Northeast Youth Sheep Show. The students won numerous awards, placing in the top 2 in eight different classes.

The Agriscience Center’s two upperclassmen animal science courses, based on livestock and equine science, raised the nine animals exhibited at the Durham Fair from birth. Some of the animals have been raised even longer than that, as students had raised the animals’ parents. The breeding and birthings had all been part of the coursework.

Students in these classes are responsible for all of the care, handling and training, and goal-setting year-round, said teacher Melissa Cunningham.

“Many hours, days, weeks, months, and even years went into producing the best animals for show,” she said. “This year, those hours and efforts were not wasted.”

On Sept. 26 the students exhibited a flock of sheep and pair of cattle at the Durham Fair, the largest agricultural fair in the state. The school’s cattle - Nilla, a mother Galloway cow, and Indie, her crossbred heifer calf - were exhibited on Friday by seniors Jenna Schaab and Allie Bennett. Nilla won “Best Senior Female” in the All Other Breeds category of the junior show, and her calf Indie earned second place in a competitive class of calves. They were then on display for the weekend, accompanied by students.

The flock of Shropshire and Southdown sheep raised by the animal science class received top honors in the sheep show. Shepherded by Cunningham and fellow teacher Tom Piekarski, the Trumbull sheep placed first or second in all eight classes entered.

Students also competed in showmanship classes, where the handler is judged instead of the sheep. Trumbull alumna Samantha Yankocy won the showmanship class, with senior Jay Mercado placing third. The performance earned the students award ribbons and cash prizes, which will be put back into the animal care fund.

In addition to the Trumbull flock, students also helped exhibit sheep in the open show division for adults. One of Cunningham’s sheep was awarded Supreme Champion Ram.

Over the summer, three students also took the flock to the Northeast Youth Sheep Show at the Eastern States Fairgrounds. The show is the largest youth sheep competition in the country.

Sam Yankocy, Valerie Rakoczy and Maddie Buzzeo exhibited lambs they raised on the school farm. Yankocy won the Randall Knight Scholarship Award from the Connecticut Sheep Breeders Association for her efforts with Trumbull’s flock and her dedication to the sheep industry. The award will be presented at the CSBA’s annual dinner in December.

“We at Trumbull Agriscience are very proud of the efforts by all of our students, at home and at the fairs, and are honored by the awards won over the years,” Cunningham said. “We also appreciate the support coming in from the community as our flock grows stronger each passing spring with new lambs.”

Trumbull Agriscience will be welcoming next year’s show lambs starting in March of 2020.