Love of livestock gives birth to show for special needs children

One of the campers at last years Inaugural Stock Show Stars being assisted by a camp coach on grooming a cow he would later show.

By: Tammy Curtis, Managing Editor

When best friends Natalie Lester and Justin DeJournett met while showing livestock, both soon discovered they shared a love for all things livestock, Dr. Pepper and making a difference, especially in children.

Both, are talented livestock show persons with a heart for others. The pair wanted to bring a unique livestock show to the area and with that dream Stock Show Stars was created. The mission of Stock Show Stars was to create a day camp and livestock show for children with special needs and beginner show persons, where all kids would be given the opportunity to learn from some of the best show persons in the area and have a positive and inclusive experience.

Lester shows cattle, market lambs, market hogs, and can occasionally be seen helping a friend in the goat show. She is a junior at Sloan Hendrix High School, where she is the reporter for her FFA chapter and involved with the show team. She loves showing livestock, but more than that she said she loves sharing her passion for this industry and helping others get started on the own journey.
DeJournett has shown cattle, sheep and pretty much any other form of four footed livestock in the ring. And while his show career is winding down, he can still be found ringside coaching, fitting, and encouraging other young show persons.

He will soon begin his college career at The University of Arkansas Fort Smith. While in high school at Pocahontas he was involved in FFA, show team, basketball, and a host of other extracurriculars. Justin has a natural teaching ability and a vast knowledge to share with campers and other show persons.
“It is our hope that this camp will continue to grow and allow so many kids and families the opportunity to experience the magical feeling of stepping into the show ring,” the pair explained.

Last fall they held their first show and it was a huge success. Such a success that they have scheduled two shows this year, both coming up in September.

During the camp, each camper was paired one-on-one with a coach. Coaches were showmen from across the state who volunteer their time and livestock to share their knowledge and experience with the campers. Throughout the day, campers and coaches worked on learning about the animal the camper would show, how to prepare the animal for a show, showmanship techniques and all things related to showing livestock. Campers and coaches also participate in relay races, games, cupcake decorating and other fun activities The evening ends with a livestock show where campers are able to show off their newly learned skills to family and friends in an authentic show.

Stock Show Stars is made possible by the generosity of many local businesses, organizations, farms and families who financially sponsor the camp making it 100 percent cost free for all campers.
Stock Show Stars is also able to provide tee shirts, a meal, awards, and cover costs associated with the show. They have also established a scholarship fund for senior coaches. The camp boosted each camper’s confidence in their new abilities.

Stacey Tebbetts, the mother of one of the campers said of last year’s camp, “This camp was an incredible blessing to our family. Greg and I enjoyed seeing Louis participate in all of the activities. This never happens, so it was an emotional experience for us. It was beautiful to see Louis walk his goat with such confidence and pride. His coach was so kind and patient, and I know they will forever be friends. This day was all about joy and love for all involved.”
These youngsters bring faith in the promise of todays youth and their role in the future when they begin leadership projects such as this at such an early age.

The shows will be held on Sept. 3 in Melbourne at the Izard County Fairgrounds and in Lawrence County on Sept. 24 at the Lawrence County Fairgrounds each camp begins at 11 a.m.

Animals are provided by coaches to ensure the safety of campers. Campers do not need their own animals to attend. Registration is ongoing for both camps and may be completed at the Stock Show Stars Facebook Page or calling or texting Natalie Lester at 870-955-0202.

The show is also still seeking corporate sponsors with three sponsorship levels, Gold, for $350, which includes logo on the shirt and banner and business display sign at the location as well as Facebook mentions and a special Thank You gift.
Silver sponsorships are available for $250 and includes logo on camp shirt and sponsor banner, Facebook Sponsor mentions and a special Thank You gift.
The $150 bronze sponsorship includes business name on shirt and banner, Facebook sponsor mentions and a special Thank you gift.
For more information, or to sponsor or register, contact either Natalie Lester or Annie Lester at 870-710-0678.

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