Growing up the daughter of a dad who showed cattle and a mom who showed hogs, Jaclyn Dingels did not play favorites.
In fact, when it came to showing animals she ventured out on her own bringing a new animal to the farm.
“When I started in 4-H I was a stubborn eight-year-old who wanted to do my own thing,” Dingels admitted. “So I told my parents I wanted sheep.”
That desire certainly has paid off for the Redwood Valley High School graduate and member of the Red-wood Valley FFA Chapter and Redwood Rainbows 4-H Club.
What started with two wethers (the eunuchs of the sheep species), grew over time as Dingels be-came more passionate about and interested in raising sheep.
Those first sheep bought from other producers led Dingels to the decision to start her own production operation. She leased a few ewes and began helping bring her own lambs into the world.
Today that operation includes 52 ewes in the Dingels flock.
“Sheep are a big part of my life,” said Dingels, who is a sophomore at the University of Minnesota.
Dingels’ commitment to raising sheep has paid off in a number of ways over the years she has been raising them, and that culminated for her at this year’s national FFA convention in Indian-apolis. There Dingels was named the national winner in sheep production – entrepreneurship/placement.
What that means, said Dingels, is the judges deemed her operation, knowledge of the industry and future goals for herself the best in the country among FFA members.
Dingels qualified for the national award after winning the proficiency award at the Minnesota FFA state convention earlier this year.
After being named one of four national finalists, Dingels made the trip to Indiana where she met with a panel of judges who conducted an interview with her about her operation.
During the interview, Dingels said she was asked a variety of questions about her specific flock, as well as general knowledge questions about the industry. The panel, she said, included industry professionals, FFA leaders and others from across the country.
She said they even asked her questions about why she did and did not do things as part of her operation.
Dingels admitted being surprised when she was announced as the winner, adding it was a very emotional experience.
“All of the pictures on the stage seem to show me crying,” she said with a laugh.
Dingels said it really means a lot to her to be recognized for the efforts she has put into her sheep operation.
“I raise sheep because I love doing it,” Dingels said, adding she really enjoys showing them and has done that at the county, state and national level.
Page 2 of 2 - In fact during the national convention she had to leave for a while to show lambs at a show in Kansas City.
In addition to receiving the proficiency award, Dingels was also presented the American Degree, which is the highest award an FFA member can receive.
After earning the various degrees at the chapter and state level, Dingels applied for and was awarded her American Degree which less than 1 percent of FFA members actually ever earn.
Dingels said she is going to continue as an FFA member and is hoping to stay involved with the Redwood Valley Chapter in the future not only as a member while she can be one but later as a member of the alumni association.
Although Dingels is in college she plans to maintain her flock on the farm as long as her family lets her.
While she is pursuing her animal science degree, Dingels is hoping after graduating to continue raising sheep for the rest of her life.
“My goal is to be able to sell club lambs to other 4-H and FFA members,” she said.
Dingels said she is honored to have been selected for the proficiency award and the American Degree, adding it just goes to show what hard work mixed with passion can lead to in one’s life.