The Ring of Gold FFA showcase at Lone Grove Schools will return again next week, giving the district’s FFA students a chance to teach and special education students a chance to learn.
During the showcase, Lone Grove’s FFA students will help special education students present show animals while teaching them about what caring for those animals entails. The animals used in the show are all FFA students’ show animals who’ve been to local competitions. Lone Grove Special Education Director Christi Frederick said participants are between the ages of about nine and 18, and the showcase has been running for several years now.
“It started with some of our students who are in FFA who had connections with some of the students that were in the special ed program and wanted to do something to include them in the agricultural field that they study,” Frederick said.
Special education students partner up with FFA students to show animals in the ring. The day also includes a petting zoo and lunch. Last year, about 100 parents and community members attended.
“They look forward to it every year,” Frederick said. “They start asking at the beginning of the year. They love the animals, they love the interaction. We have a big crowd that comes, and they love showing off for the crowd.”
Since the Ring of Gold began, the school’s agriculture barn and show ring have been renovated and updated to make it more wheelchair accessible because of the program.
“We partner with them,” Frederick said. “Really, they do a lot of the work in organizing the animals for the show. We have a judge. It is a live show in every way.”
Frederick said last year, a compliance officer with the State Department of Education attended the show. This year, he’ll return with State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister.
“He was so impressed by this activity that not many schools do,” Frederick said. “And so, he wanted Joy Hofmeister to have the opportunity to see how we put all this together and how beneficial it is.”
Frederick said the experience isn’t just a positive one for the special education students. It also serves as a welcome change of pace for the FFA members.
“They work so hard, and they’re being competitive all the time,” Frederick said. “I think this is a time for them to really show others how much there is to enjoy about raising animals and being part of FFA. They really get to share what they do.”
Ring of Gold will be held from 9 a.m. to noon Tuesday, February 19, at the Lone Grove Schools FFA building. Frederick said the event is free and open to the public, but guests should consider the weather forecast and wear boots.