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July 31, 2007 > Washington Hospital Supports Youth Livestock Auction at the Alameda County Fair

Washington Hospital Supports Youth Livestock Auction at the Alameda County Fair

Local Children Learn Lifelong Skills Along the Way

For many young people who went to the Alameda County Fair this year, it wasn't just fun and games. On the last day of this year's fair, Shelby Offill, 12, and her nine-year-old sister Courtney were preparing to show their sheep to judges. Both girls are active participants in the 4-H livestock project. 4-H, is the largest out of school youth program in the U.S., with over 7 million members and 500,000 teen and adult volunteers, according to the National 4-H Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

This was the first year that both sisters started raising sheep together according to Michelle Offill, who actively supports her daughters' 4-H efforts.

"Our daughters have learned a lot from 4-H, but especially that raising animals is a big responsibility and it isn't easy," Offill says. "There can be a lot of sweat and frustration that comes along with raising animals. When friends were going to parties or a sleep over, our daughters had to worry about who was going to feed their sheep!"

Granddaughters of Washington Hospital employee, Ann Mazzone - Shelby and Courtney are associated with the local Crane Ridge 4-H out of Livermore. The girls showed three sheep at the fair and one of the lambs was purchased by Washington Hospital. Shelby had a very successful showing winning second place in her class.

"The kids are at the fair for two reasons: to have their sheep judged and to sell their sheep at the auction," says Offill. "On the first day of the competition, the youngsters are judged to see if the sheep are market ready. The participants are then judged on their showmanship skills with the attention being on how well the kids show and handle their animal."

Hard Work Pays Off

According to Offill, both of her daughters worked hard for several months to raise quality animals for the Alameda County Fair. The girls received guidance from their 4-H leaders and they met regularly to go over the anatomy of the sheep, what to feed them and learn all the basics on how to raise farm animals. Both girls woke up early every morning before school to feed their sheep and then after school the girls would exercise their sheep, clean the pen and feed them.

Offill says both of her daughters are excited at the prospect of raising pigs for next year's fair and that the best part of raising these animals is showing them at the fair.

"There are a number of chores for the kids to do during the day, such as washing their sheep, feeding them and barn duty (which the children must do at least three times during the fair)," she adds. "Our children have made many friends through 4-H and they are all good kids doing the same thing, which gives the kids a special bond."

A Tradition of Community Support

Dr. James Gearhart, a retired Washington Hospital surgeon, originally began purchasing beef to support local children. Hospital CEO Nancy Farber has continued the tradition that Dr. Gearhart spearheaded by sending a representative to the fair each year to bid on animals during the youth livestock auction.

Most years, Farber herself attends the fair and raises the bar by bidding for kids' animals.

The event gives Washington Hospital the chance to help the children and local farm and agricultural organizations by bidding on the livestock.

The fair's 4-H livestock auction is one of many community events Washington Hospital strives to uphold. The hospital has always been a strong advocate of community organizations and projects, helping to give back to the residents of Washington Township Health Care District, which includes Fremont, Newark, Union City, and parts of South Hayward and unincorporated Sunol.

To learn more about community programs supported by Washington Hospital, visit HYPERLINK ""

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