It’s an art: Greeley girl brings home three livestock grand champs at Boulder County Fair
September 21, 2016
Summers are a time to stay at grandma and grandpa's home in Longmont, Colo., for Kayla Becker.
The 13-year-old works with her grandparents and animals throughout the summer to get them prepared the Boulder County and Colorado State Fairs. At her grandparent's house, she cares for the hogs and goats.
She, like most kids in 4-H, has a set schedule. She wakes up and tends to the animals. She's still working with animals when evening falls and the temperature cools, but unlike most 4-H kids, she doesn't start and end her day on the same farm.
Kayla's evenings throughout the summer are spent in Berthoud, Colo., roughly 30 minutes away from her grandparent's, at Aunt Ronda's house. That's where Kayla's lambs live.
“I’ve been a lamb showman since I was three.” - Kayla Becker
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At the Boulder County Fair, Kayla showed four goats, three pigs, five lambs and two breeding sheep.
Her efforts during the summer paid off in a grand way.
She had a lamb, goat and hog take grand champion at this year's Boulder County Fair.
She also had the reserve goat, the champion doe; grand champion for showmanship and took third overall for the round robin for showmanship.
And those are only the top prizes she had this year.
In the backyard of her grandparent's home in east Boulder County, a wooden fence showcased ribbons and banners, chairs, plaques and the belt buckles Kayla earned this year's county fair.
Just the one fair was enough to earn a wall full of accolades, which don't include any of the ones she got for previous showmanship and livestock between county and state fairs.
Kayla was born into showing and raising lambs.
"I've been a lamb showman since I was 3," Kayla said.
Her mom, Janet Becker, won grand lamb in 1994 at the Colorado State Fair. But Kayla does more than just show her lambs. They're her responsibility. When she turned six, her granddad, Richard Miller, bought her 10 lambs. She's cared for them, and now that group is double in size.
Her mom and grandmother, Jane, said they are very proud of how much Kayla is able to accomplish. And that's because it's not only livestock the middle-school girl focuses on.
She attends Chappelow K-8 Arts Magnet School in Evans, Colo. The school has a focus on the arts, and Kayla is plenty involved in some of those. She's in the jazz and regular band, involved with the Greeley Children's Choral and was part of the school's production of "Fiddler on the Roof."
"She excels at everything," Jane said.
As a student in a magnet school, it's not common to find others involved in livestock. Kayla said some of her classmates have horses, but that's as close it gets.
There is one big disconnect about her livestock her peers don't understand.
"Some think it's weird," Kayla said. "They don't understand the ag part, and raising the animals for market."
But they're still supportive — especially her closest friends — even if they don't quite understand. But they're artists, where everyone has their own niche. Even with the talent in the arts Kayla showcases, her heart goes back to her animals.
" In the summer she's dedicated to only 4-H," Janet said.
Kayla said she plans to be a veterinarian, something she's had her eyes on since she was small. Even with a few more years before she needs to seriously look into what colleges or programs she might be interested in, her plan is Colorado State University.
"She's good with animals," Jane said. "They work well with her."
Kayla said her heart is in working with animals. She has helped her grandpa with birthing the lambs, and spent a lot of hours this past summer working with and raising her animals.
The hard work she puts into her arts, animals and showing at fairs has paid off for her so far. Her grand success at the Boulder County Fair this year showed her how much a good work ethic can, and does, payoff.
And the work it takes to raise the sheep, according to Kayla, is the best part.
"You get to see them when they're born," she said. "You can see how they progress as they grow." ❖