BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Showing an animal at the Kern County Fair is the highlight of the Future Farmers of America program. It’s like the final exam and end-of-year pizza party rolled into one.
For many of these young farmers-in-training, it’s their dream — and for two, it’s a dream that seemed to be in pieces a month ago. But the community came together to pick those pieces back up.
“She called me and she said they weren’t on the farm anymore, and that’s when I started to panic a little bit,” said Arlenee Parra, Highland FFA.
Arlenee Parra and Alexia Hernandez woke up one August morning to find the goats they’d given months of time and effort — and spent hundreds of dollars on — were gone.
It seemed they’d been stolen.
“I was both sad and a little angry, because I thought, ‘Why would someone steal two goats from high school students, because they had nothing better to do?” said Alexia Hernandez, Highland FFA.
The girls were raising the goats to be shown at the fair as part of Highland High School’s FFA program — but no goats meant no show. As days went by and the chances of finding the missing livestock dwindled, the girls lost hope.
“Her summer was dedicated to the goat, so she was super devastated,” said Melitza Amador, Arlenee’s sister. “She didn’t want to go to school, she was very down about it.”
But Arlenee and Alexia’s story caught the ears of people across Kern County who wanted to help. Led by president Cherese Grell, Highland FFA Alumni created social media posts and opened their fundraising channels to donations for the girls.
“The shares came left and right. It was just a matter of days that we were able to raise the funds that we were able to raise,” said Cherese Grell, Highland FFA Alumni president.
Those funds would help pay for next year’s animals. But this year’s fair show was still a no-go — until a local goat breeder, Maggenti Show Goats, offered to donate goats the girls could show; goats the breeder would let the girls keep.
“I have my own goat,” Parra said. “The goat is actually mine, so I’m excited to call it mine.”
Their original goats still haven’t been found.
“It’s most likely that they are no longer alive,” Arlenee said.
But the girls split more than $1,700 in donations, enough to recoup the money they spent this year and get a head start next year. And on the show floor Wednesday, Arlenee and Alexia walked tall and proud, their new goats by their sides.
Highland FFA Alumni is still accepting donations for Arlenee and Alexia to help with next year’s fundraising. You can donate on Venmo by searching Highland-AlumniFFA.