Harley Jarzombek received a note one day in her 4-H record book.

The Goliad High School sophomore was already in the midst of a busy 4-H schedule, juggling classwork and farmwork with great ability and enthusiasm. But the note she received was more than praise, it was a call to action. The note read that she needed a “bigger” leadership project to add to her resume, something she can highlight as a key success going forward.

So, the budding agricultural star flexed her intellectual muscle, thinking beyond just one animal or one student. She went as big as they come, taking the reins of her own livestock show.

Jarzombek’s project, the Special Extra Livestock Show, will take place March 19 at 11:30 a.m. at the Goliad County Fairgrounds. The show is for Goliad Independent School District special education students in Grades 3-12, who will get a real taste of the county fair action.

SPED kids will be given a spotlight at the event, bringing their chosen lamb, goat and rabbit projects to show at the fairgrounds. Every participant will receive a T-shirt, a laminated exhibitor number, a commemorative ribbon and a meeting with a show ring judge to give them pointers. Other prizes are also in the works, thanks to the bounty of sponsors the sophomore has brought on.

“They’re not just going to get a ‘congratulations, you did it,’” Jarzombek said.

If the project sounds like a lot, it’s because it is, as Harley recounts the “long process” that brought idea to reality.

“When I actually started looking and trying to find a bigger leadership project, I came across this idea and I said, you know, this will be a really cool idea to do,” she said. “Or, just see if we can pitch it and see if it can even happen. For a student that maybe (isn’t) as fortunate or (doesn’t) have the (life) as us 4-H and FFA students do, just to give them a little piece of what its like on a daily basis.”

The GHS student saw the Special Extra Livestock Show done in other Texas counties, and immediately went to work.

“I had to really plan this out, really think about it,” she said. “Do I actually want to do this, or is this just an idea in the back of my head? Once I found out, you know what, this is something I wanted to do ... I wrote a proposal letter.”

The letter was written, revised, and proposed to the Goliad County Fair Association’s Executive Board, who passed Jarzombek’s motion. The same speech, with a few modifications, was given at the quarterly Association meeting with parents present. Once the speech was successful a second time, letters were sent out to students to gauge interest.

She hoped that the special education students would take on the same love for animals she had, with this being her eighth year in Goliad 4-H and her second in Goliad FFA. Beginning with sheep and pigs, Jarzombek eventually graduated to showing commercial heifers at the county fair.

“It was something else to do (where) you could see how the animal would react to different ways I reacted,” Jarzombek said of falling in love with the livestock world. “Because animals and humans do correspond with each other ... if I’m upset, the animal is going to be not the same way as if I were energetic and happy. If I’m angry, the animal will get super antsy and not want to do anything with me.”

Taking care of something other than yourself, as she puts it, is the same emotional maturity and leadership quality she wishes to instill on SPED projects.

“For us, it’s pretty normal to learn that, but for some of the students with their needs, it may be a little harder,” she said. “We as 4-H and FFA students get to have a bond with not only our friends, but an animal that we can connect to. It might sound crazy, but I connect to my animals all the time. (I want to teach) the bonding, the relationships that you build through this, the responsibilities. Time management is a really big thing. Getting everything fed on time, getting to places on time, which are normal things we use in life in general.”

Hard-earned traits aren’t the only focus, though, as fun is still on the front-burner come March 19.

“Giving these students a chance to participate in a livestock show will not only boost their confidence and self-esteem, but will also bring them joy and happiness ... that was a pretty big detail, we want kids to enjoy this.”

Harley has been working close with her mother, Lana Jarzombek, on procuring sponsorships for the event. So far, they have heard at least 30 responses, and are always looking to add more sponsorship before the March event. Harley noted that sponsorship has been plentiful due to area entrepreneurs using multiple endeavors to fund the project.

Shooting for the biggest project she can think of fulfilled the action call of her 4-H notebook, with that small comment leading her through a maturation process rarely seen at the high school level. On top of her work with the show, she is taking regular courses, a dual-credit college course, her own animal projects at home, as well as being on Goliad FFA’s Nursery Landscape team.

She states that her future is solidly in the agricultural lane, with college in mind for down the road. She specifically gave agriculture business as an interest, something she just took her own crash course on, learning her own leadership lessons along the way.

“Patience has been a big (lesson), having to wait for responses from the school, from board members, patience has been a big one,” she said. “Other responsibilities I did not have before ... time management is a really big one.”

To become a sponsor for the Special Extra Livestock Show, contact Harley Jazombek at 361-405-1273 or Lana Jazombek at 361-645-4793.

•tleffler@mysoutex.com•

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