Alpaca Youth Halter Class--A Proposal
Looking around at the participants at the AOA National Show was an eye opening experience...we're not getting any younger, literally and figuretively! Not only is the average age of the alpaca farmer or rancher slowly creeping up, but there are relatively few young owners and breeders getting into the business. And by young, I mean less than 30, although in reality for me, less than 50 seems young! In the 10 plus years since we started in the alpaca business, little if anything has been done to change the alpaca business from a retirement lifestyle to a generation to generation handed down farming and ranching industry. And with the alpaca show season in full swing, I decided now was the time to propose to the AOA Show Rules Committee (SRC) a plan to take a tiny step toward a vision that I share with at least a few others in the alpaca business. The proposal was for a Youth Halter Class, the primary purpose being to make a distinction between Performance/Showmanship and Halter and to allow our youth an avenue by which they can connect the pieces they have learned thus far and advance that collection possibly toward a vocation, rather than a hobby. At the same, our neighbors to the north, New York Empire Alpacas, was also planning a similar Youth Halter Class. There's been a very good sharing of ideas between my fellow PA and NY friends and they have inspired me to press forward. Below is a copy of the followup letter I sent to the AOA SRC following our first and prior to a second conference call. Thank you to the AOA SRC Members and Committee Chairpersons Jerilynn Booher, DVM and Michelle Swango for taking the time to hear and review the proposals and thank you to Empire President Ken Clark for your work on creating and shaping the proposals and sharing the conference calls.