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Special needs contestants to showcase their Poultry Pals

New event joins Clay County Agricultural Fair on April 11

Posted 3/28/24

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Tyler Brock felt an emptiness last year when he said goodbye to some Unlimited Opportunities Goat Show contestants. The experience was rewarding. As a buddy, he worked with …

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Special needs contestants to showcase their Poultry Pals

New event joins Clay County Agricultural Fair on April 11


Posted

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Tyler Brock felt an emptiness last year when he said goodbye to some Unlimited Opportunities Goat Show contestants.

The experience was rewarding. As a buddy, he worked with individuals with special needs, who showcased their goats and answered questions about their animals and experiences.

Contestants were overwhelmed with joy and confidence; buddies felt a quiet accomplishment.

“They do this amazing show at the county fair with the unlimited goats, but it’s for individuals in kindergarten through 12th grade,” Brock said. “Once they graduate, they don’t have that opportunity anymore. I came to realize they don’t have a lot of opportunities for adults with special needs. So I figured I needed to create another opportunity that’s not goats. This one’s called Poultry Pals, and they’ll actually be showing that chicken inside the fair.”

Many of this year’s Poultry Pals competition were in last year’s Unlimited Opportunities Goat Show, including Tyler’s Poultry Pal, Patrick.

The pageantry involving the adults and their silkie chickens will start at 5 p.m. on Thursday, April 11, at the J.P. Hall Livestock Arena.

“At the Clay County Agricultural Fair, we have a lot of different opportunities for individuals with special needs,” said Kelly Mosley, Livestock Chair.

Officially, Tyler’s mother, Dana, is the superintendent of the program because her son is an eighth grader at Lake Asbury Junior High, but she said the title is merely symbolic. Tyler is responsible for creating the project.

“I’m just along for the ride and to support him,” she said.

Silkie chickens are flightless and are without spurs. Contestants were required to attend two practice sessions, and they seemed enamored by their chirpy little friends.

Brock is the President of the Future Farmers of America at Lake Asbury.

“Actually, I started FFA because of chickens,” he said. “I had four chickens even though we were in a place where we shouldn’t have chickens. We still had the chickens, and that started me out. I came closer to animals and students with special needs through chickens.”

Brock hopes Poultry Pals becomes the springboard for other projects.

“So there’ll be adults that are twice as old as buddies, but that’s still OK because we still want all these adults to have a continuous opportunity,” Brock said. “Everyone deserves the same opportunity.