Based in Fort Worth, Texas, nonprofit Ladies on the Lamb consists of business women and female entrepreneurs raising money to support young men and women who raise, show and sell lambs as part of 4-H and FFA. Higginbotham is among its biggest supporters.
As one of the largest lamb-buying groups in the country, Ladies on the Lamb is unique to Fort Worth and Texas. 100% of the money it spends goes to youth who raise and show lambs at stock shows.
Lambs, the black sheep of stock shows
Livestock shows give kids pursuing husbandry projects for 4-H and the FFA an opportunity to present the fruits of their labor to the public, win recognition and occasionally earn monetary rewards.
When Ladies on the Lamb founder Rebecca Clegg Emery first attended the Fort Worth Stock Show Syndicate’s Junior Livestock Sale in 2000, she noticed that the sheep weren’t part of the frenzied bidding over goats, pigs and steers. The kids raising sheep had worked just as hard, but were getting fleeced at the final auction.
“Texas 4-H and FFA livestock development projects require a tremendous amount of discipline,” says Emery. “Young men and women should be rewarded for showing up and doing the work.”
A year later, on the eve of the 2021 Junior Livestock Sale, Emery bumped into Fort Worth Stock Show Syndicate Chairman Gary Ray. She shared her concern and immediately won Ray’s support to address the lack of financial support for sheep. By the next day, she had secured the funds to purchase two lambs for $6,000 – doubling the prices paid for sheep the previous year.
Carrying that momentum into the following year, Emery rounded up other local business women and entrepreneurs and founded Ladies on the Lamb.
“Texas 4-H and FFA livestock development projects require a tremendous amount of discipline. Young men and women should be rewarded for showing up and doing the work.”
– Rebecca Clegg Emery, Ladies on the Lamb founder
Much ado about mutton
All of the money the nonprofit raises goes to the purchase of lambs from livestock shows in Texas – and to date, Ladies on the Lamb has raised and spent well over $1.2 million.
Some of that funding has come in the form of annual contributions from Higginbotham, which has always embraced the opportunity to support not only its local community, but communities throughout Texas.
Higginbotham insurance broker Aro Umfress is the brokerage’s shepherd in 4-H philanthropy, meeting monthly with Ladies on the Lamb to discuss fundraising efforts, community involvement and plans for the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo.
During the event, Umfress is onsite nearly eight hours a day, every day, for 27 days straight, working as a volunteer in the lamb barn and arena. Her payoff: witnessing young men and women rewarded for their tireless commitment to their animals.
“These kids tend the sheep before school, after school and on the weekends,” says Umfress. “Many even sleep in the barn with their animals.”
“I can’t stress enough how much this changes their lives. Some kids put the money away for college. Others buy another animal, start their own businesses or help pay living expenses so their families can keep their farms and ranches.”
– Aro Umfress, Higginbotham insurance broker
The results of shear determination
Not every participant in a stock show makes it to the auction, which usually features the most-awarded animals, and those who do tend to spend years working toward that goal.
Those who do finally reach the stock show’s auction deserve to be rewarded and celebrated – and Ladies on the Lamb makes sure that happens.
Kids can use the auction proceeds however they see fit, helping them fulfill future plans as well as immediate needs. Whatever the plan or need, the money always has an enormous impact.
“I can’t stress enough how much this changes their lives,” says Umfress. “Some kids put the money away for college. Others buy another animal, start their own businesses or help pay living expenses so their families can keep their farms and ranches.”