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Jenica Reagan envisions the future of agriculture
Lathrop High junior and FFA president Jenica Reagan shows her sheep at last year’s San Joaquin County Fair. - photo by Photo courtesy Jenica Reagan
LATHROP – Jenica Reagan is already the proud owner of a ewe and a wether sheep.

She bought the pair at the annual San Joaquin County Fair where she was also showing her market lamb and breeding sheep.

This year, she’ll add even more to her growing herd thanks to the 250 she won from the speech contest sponsored by Rotary International. She won $125 as the winner of the Lathrop Rotary speech contest held at Lathrop High School. That win allowed her to move on to the next level of the competition which was held at the Tracy First United Methodist Church on Feb. 24. Accompanying her to that contest were her mother, Christel Reagan, and Lathrop High Principal David Chamberlain. Contenders included other Rotary speech contest winners from area club chapters.

She received another $125 as the second-place winner at the Tracy competitions.

The theme of this year’s speech contest was “The Future in Your Hands.” Reagan delivered her speech without using any note cards.

Reagan was surprised, but excited, that she had won.

“I knew that I was going to do okay but I didn’t know that I was going to do that well,” she said modestly.

“I wasn’t prepared for it because I was new; I never competed in speech contests before. I knew a lot of the kids who competed had experience with Rotary already, so I did not think I was going to do this well.”

Nevertheless, she worked hard and did a lot of research to put her speech together.

“I did research on biotechnology because I wanted to base my speech on how I’m going to help the world in the future by starting a grassroots project to continue agriculture literacy,” explained the Lathrop High junior who hopes of becoming an elected politician in the future.

“I said in my speech that what I want to do is to educate people on biotechnology and proper farming that are important to agriculture, she said.

She was not totally uninformed with the subject she had chosen. In fact, she based the focus of her speech from her personal experience as a member of a family that breeds race horses for a living, and from her experiences in Future Farmers of America (FFA) at school. She is currently president of the Lathrop High FFA chapter.

“She’s a very special girl,” Principal Chamberlain said of Reagan who maintains a 3.5 GPA.

Besides maintaining a high academic excellence, the 15-year-old Reagan is also busy with the Manteca Unified School District’s Montadale Sheep Project. Those involved in the project are students from all five high schools in the district.

“We get together on Wednesday and raise a flock of sheep at the school farm,” located behind the school district office at Louise Avenue, Reagan said.

“The project is to teach kids about sheep and make them learn how to raise and maintain sheep,” she explained.
They do that by meeting every Wednesday after school at the district farm where they feed their sheep and vaccinate them.

“We take care of them, and if they’re having babies, we help take care of the babies, and then show them at the county fair and state fair,” she said.

The district supplies the sheep for the students “and we do the fund-raising to help support our project. We have two rams and we probably have about 15 ewes,” Reagan said.

It’s not all fun, and the work can be really hard but everyone in the group is dedicated.

“Normally we’re there (at the school farm) for about two to three hours, but when it gets closer to fair time we get ready for the show, and sometimes we’re there for five, six hours. Sometimes we meet on weekends to fix the fences and the barns, so we’re there all day,” added Reagan.

After graduation from high school, the ambitious teen-ager plans to pursue her studies at a college or university.

As to what campus she has in mind, she said, “I’m not exactly sure but I’m going to study agriculture so, probably Cal-Poly San Luis Obispo or Chico State.”

Beyond that, or maybe even before that, she would like to “get involved in politics hopefully leading up to be Secretary of Agriculture for the United States,” Reagan said.