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Passing the Baton

About eight years ago, Jim and I heard about the Youth Conservationist Program (YCP) while we were at the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival.  Right away we thought it’d be really cool to participate … what could be better than to work with a young person to foster sheep husbandry.  It sounded like fun and we weren’t going to get the chance to do it at home.  So after talking to a number of sheep folks who had taken the plunge and hearing their pro’s and con’s, we decided to go for it.

The YCP is really all about conserving heritage sheep breeds but Coopworths are accepted into the program because their numbers are few in the US…even though not globally.  So…in 2005, we contacted Elaine Ashcraft —  the Coordinator of  the YCP and an absolutely amazing woman who’s devoted to youth and sheep and putting them together — and signed on to donate a yearling ewe at the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival that year.

A month or so before the Festival, we received an overstuffed envelope  full of essays written by a bunch of  kids from a bunch of states mostly east of the Mississippi.  We read them all…many times…it was difficult…argh! but also lots of fun!  In the the end, we chose Erinn from Pennsylvania.

YCP 2005

This is Erinn and me at the YCP presentation in 2005. I've just handed over EllenG, the sheep.

We’ve stayed in touch since then…always loved getting the news and photos of lambs in the Spring…and were sad when we heard about the not-so-fun stuff that inevitably goes along with raising livestock. Erinn built a nice little Coopworth flock. No doubt, family support and a background in raising livestock at home was a huge help. But now she’s almost all grown up and is going off to college in the fall so it’s time to reduce the number of sheep she’ll leave behind for the family to care for.

This year at Maryland, Erinn participated in the YCP again…on the giving end!  She read all the essays, chose the recipient, got her ewe to Maryland and — the super fun part — presented the ewe to a young lady from North Carolina at the YCP event.

YPC 2010

Here we are -- Marissa, Erinn & me -- at the YCP presentation. We're happy but the ewe's had just about enough and would like to go home please!

And Elaine was on Cloud 9 because four former recipients donated ewes this year.  This is the way it’s supposed to work — YAY!  Here’s a group shot of everybody (and their sheep) after the YCP presentation.

YPC group

There were lots of participants this year...shepherds in the making.

Thank you Roger for the photo of Marissa, Erinn and me!

4 comments to Passing the Baton

  • Nina

    I can’t believe it’s been 8 years already. Great program! Glad you brought Erinn and her family into our lives as well!

  • Elaine Ashcraft

    Pam & Jim….Thank you, folks like you all and the youth like Erinn and Marissa, make all the work with the YCP well worth it!
    Already looking forward to the kids final reports and next year!

  • Pam

    We’re really lucky, aren’t we!

  • Pam

    We hope that many more kids like Erinn and Marissa will learn about shepherding through this program. Did you know that the ewe Erinn handed over to Marissa was bred? Marissa has 2 Coopworths now!