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Champion Drive Special Edition Livestock Show
Brenham ISD is proud present Champion Drive, a program designed to provide a fair experience to Brenham ISD students with special needs and their families. Champion Drive is a collaborative effort between Brenham ISD staff and students and dozens of local sponsors and volunteers.The 2018 event will celebrate 39 student exhibitors matched with 70 4H and FFA buddies.
The Champion Drive idea was introduced to Brenham ISD in 2014 by Kyle Merten, Community Representative for Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative and Brenham High School graduate. Having worked for the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service for seven years, Merten experienced many programs throughout the state that could benefit Brenham ISD students. When he returned to Brenham after receiving his master’s and doctorate in agricultural education from Texas A&M, he approached Leslie Villere, Brenham ISD Director of Special Education, with the idea. Merten and Villere presented the program to the Washington County Fair Board to pair BISD 4H and FFA students with Brenham ISD students with special needs to give them an opportunity to participate in the fair experience. Champion Drive was born and the team began working on logistics.
Villere works with Brenham ISD teachers to evaluate and choose students that are physically and mentally capable and willing to participate in Champion Drive. This year, 39 students ranging in age from 9-18 and representing every Brenham ISD campus have been selected to participate. Fundraising efforts in the first year of the program produced over $10,000. This year that number is close to $20,000. These funds are used to purchase prizes and awards for participants, as well as provide lunch for participants, buddies, and their families. Several scholarships will also be awarded to buddy students at the end of the year.
The program is a huge effort with nearly 100 volunteers working together to prepare the livestock and help the participants get to know the animals. The day begins at 7:00 a.m. with preparation of the animals to get them show ready by 8:30 a.m. Buddies arrive for a debriefing and then meet with participants to spend time in the pens getting acclimated to the animals. Some of the participants have sensory issues and this time is critical for them to feel safe and comfortable during the experience. The Champion Drive event begins at 10:30 a.m. and lasts about an hour. During that time, a specially selected judge speaks to each individual participant to provide a special moment in the spotlight. At the end of the event, lunch is served to participants, buddies, and their families in the Washington County Fairgrounds VIP room.
Champion Drive is an event that is open the public and is part of the annual Washington County Fair events. Brenham ISD invites the community to join us on Friday, September 21 at 10:30 a.m. at the Washington County Fairgrounds. For more information on how to be involved in this event, contact Leslie Villere at 979-277-3700 or Kyle Merten at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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