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Montoursville resident competes in farm show

Liliana Yeagley. PHOTO PROVIDED

Eagle-eyed viewers of the 106th Annual Pennsylvania Farm Show may have noticed a familiar face among the competitors.

Montoursville resident Lilliana Yeagley, 16, was among the competitors showing livestock.

For Yeagley, a senior at Milton Hershey School, her journey with agriculture began during the summer of her eighth grade year.

“I remember I was in eighth grade English class and we were sent an email about interning jobs (that summer). I was hooked by hearing (about) the animal center, because I was able to work with the goats, sheep and the cows. So, I signed up and I was accepted to be an intern. I worked the summer of my eighth grade year and the summer of my ninth grade year,” said Yeagley.

As a student of the Milton Hershey School, Yeagley was able to continue to work in agriculture throughout the school year thanks to the school’s extensive Agriculture and Environmental Education Program.

Through the program, students of the school are given access to farms located on campus, allowing them hands-on experience with live animals. Students are responsible for caring for the animals alongside a full time staff of trained professionals in agricultural practices.

The close proximity to live agriculture allows the school to host a number of different clubs throughout the school year revolving around different animals such as goats, sheep and beef cattle, all three of which Yeagley is a member. It’s thanks to the skills she has demonstrated in these clubs that she was able to show the animals in this year’s Farm Show.

The agricultural field is one which Yeagley says she enjoys, as it pairs well with her personality and allows her to have time during her day when she can focus on other things than the stress of being a student.

“I think I just have a really strong personality that ties in with taking care of things and taking care of people,” she said. “That’s why I want to go into the human services field for my career. (Agriculture) does give me that time to not have to think about what homework I have to do…it’s like I can focus on this sheep because I need to shear this sheep… I can take care of an animal when I can’t tend to things in my own life that I want to fix.”

To prepare for the annual farm show, Yeagley and her fellow students work throughout the year to ensure that they and the animals are as prepared as possible for the event.

“The farm show usually takes place over one week around the beginning of January. We participate and we show our sheep, our goats and our beef cattle,” she said. “So, we work throughout the school year and throughout the summer to learn how to show the animal and to learn logistics and showmanship and how to work the animal in the ring.”

The day of the show, the students get an early start, often being picked up and transported to the event facilities no later than 6:30 a.m. Upon arriving at the facilities, Yeagley said that the next few hours consist of preparing the animals for the competitions. All manner of measures are taken to ensure that the animals are well groomed and ready to be shown including getting goats into their show collars, washing, drying and brushing the cows, clipping the animals fur and picking hay out of the animals’ fur. Once the animals are prepared for showing, it is just a matter of waiting for those in the competition for their class or breed to be called for judging.

All of this is done to ensure that the presentation of the animals is up to the strict standards of the Farm Show judges.

“… When I was showing the sheep, the judge would stick his finger in the teeth to feel how the teeth are. He would also make sure that there was no snot running down the nose, no eye (crusts) and that there was no earwax in their ears,” Yeagley said.

While it may not be the most luxurious part of the agricultural activities, ensuring the cleanliness and presentation of the animals is of great importance.

“It’s pretty gross, but you can tell that they do need cleaning every once in a while,” Yeagley said.

After the animals were prepared to be shown, Yeagley had the opportunity to show some goats in this year’s competition named Ursula, Cookie Crumble, Kiwi and Bacon n Greggy, as well as a small lamb.

“I plan on going to college and pursuing (teaching), but if agriculture calls me into my full time job, then I will pursue that,” she said. “Or, if not, I want to have some sort of agriculture in my life whether it’s just that I have some pets in the backyard or I’m helping at a farm or something. Just some way that I can incorporate myself into agriculture,”.

Above all else, Yeagley said that the lessons she learned from the agricultural opportunities and experiences afforded to her by the Milton Hershey School have and will continue to serve her well as she advances in life. Through her agricultural experiences at MHS, Yeagley said she has learned, among other things, patience, confidence, communication skills and how to be a graceful winner.

“I have learned a lot of valuable life lessons, and I will continue to use them outside of Milton Hershey School,” she said.

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