Crater High School junior Clayre Shaffer said her hope was to attend a national event before high school graduation. With two years left in high school, she's doubled her own expectations with two national events set this fall for two teams of which she's a member.
Clayre says she's happy that she'll be "horsing around" for two to three weeks this fall in a slew of livestock-judging events around the country.
Shaffer and her cohorts will head to the Future Farmers of America nationals Oct. 13-23 in Indianapolis to demonstrate their skills in livestock judging. A week later, the Crater teams will be in the 4-H horse judging nationals, Nov. 2-7 in Louisville, Kentucky.
Clayre, who said she began working with horses at the age of 4, said she was excited for the FFA team members to "show their stripes" at nationals.
Joining Clayre on the Crater High FFA nationals livestock evaluation team are 2016 graduate Sara Shelton, juniors David Gladman and Macen Keller and, as alternates, junior Cameron Goddard and sophomore Jorden McKinnen.
Other Jackson County national horse evaluation (4-H) team members include Crater senior Falon Sonnen, Eagle Point senior Dakota Cantamessa and Rogue Valley Adventist sophomore Hailey Bischoff.
"The way I see it is we have worked so hard in what we do, " Clayre said, noting that, on the 4-H front, a team had not attended nationals in eight years.
"I think we all feel really proud to bring Jackson County back into the spotlight."
Debi Kubik, a local equestrian advisor and founder of the Crater equestrian team, said Clayre and fellow team members have more than earned their place at nationals.
"In this day and age, it's pretty tough to get kids involved with agriculture, much less have them compete at any level," Kubik said.
"We're fortunate that we have a pretty good group of these kids still pursuing this for one reason or another. This is such a wholesome, healthy activity for these kids, and it's such an honor for this valley to have not one team going to nationals but two."
— Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.