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FMS student wins awards with sheep


For years Farragut High School students were nicknamed the Farragut Farmers, and while that nickname no longer holds true for most Farragut residents, there is at least one remaining 4-H student actively involved in the 4-H Agriculture Program. 

Shannon Palko, 12, a seventh-grader at Farragut Middle School, owns, breeds, raises and competes with her own flock of Tunis sheep. Shannon’s parents, Leonard and Sheri, are supportive of this hobby/business. 

“The people involved provide exceptional leadership with very sound values, and the life lessons learned through this project will serve Shannon extremely well the rest of her life,” Leonard said.

Tunis are a rare breed of meat sheep and have creamy colored wool set off by cinnamon colored head and legs, very expressive eyes, long ears and a docile nature. Shannon entered her flock all over Tennessee this summer, in both 4-H events and fairs. At the four-day-long 4-H Tennessee State Sheep Expo held in Cookeville the last week in July, one of Shannon’s yearling ewes was awarded Grand Champion Tunis Ewe, and one of her Tunis ewe lambs was awarded Grand Champion Bred-by Tunis Ewe. To end the fair season, she competed at the Tennessee State Fair in Nashville, where her ram lamb was named Grand Champion and her yearling took Reserve Grand Champion. 

Receiving Grand Champion Awards, Flock Awards, Showmanship Awards and Supreme Exhibitor Awards from many of these venues, she has been rewarded for her efforts. Competing at fairs can be very lucrative, and Shannon has raised enough money the past two fair seasons to purchase a few more foundation ewes and a new ram, in addition to paying her entry fees. 

Leonard said, “This is her business; the expenses are hers as well as the profit.” 

Shannon and six of her flock will be entered in North American International Live-stock Expo in Louisville, Ky, for the first time this November. Having done well in Tennessee, she said she is very excited to see how her flock competes at the national level.

Shannon said she would love to see more students from the Farragut area have the opportunity to learn more about sheep. One particular program enables a student to “lease” a lamb from another 4-H student for the season. The lamb stays on the owner’s farm but becomes a “project” for the student who has leased it for the season. 

For more information about the 4-H sheep project, contact Shannon and/or her parents at spalko@chartertn.net.

 

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