Damion's Story: Discovering his niche

This story was first printed in the Winter 2011 issue of Sunshine.

Photo of Damion, Methodist Children's HomeTaking care of animals is part of daily life at the MCH Boys Ranch. Residents who are interested in working with animals are assigned to crews that feed and wash animals and clean their pens. While this work may sound like just another chore, youth enjoy the time they spend with their steer, hog, goat or lamb.

Damion came to the Boys Ranch without any knowledge of livestock. He was a long way from home, and he lacked confidence and an understanding of his interests and talents. By the end of his first year, his outlook and attitude had changed.

Damion asked to be put on a work crew in May 2010. He was assigned the responsibility of caring for lambs with a group of other boys. He did so well that he was given the privilege of having first choice in selecting his lamb the next year.

Bob McClory, a homeparent and work crew supervisor at the Boys Ranch, said Damion chose the smallest and least desirable lamb in the bunch. He said Damion stood firm in his decision and felt he could work the best with the lamb he selected.

Months later, the physical appearance and health of Damion’s lamb had improved dramatically. The attention and care he gave his lamb paid off.

“One of my favorite things about living on the Ranch is being able to take care of my lamb,” Damion said.

Because of his willingness to work and learn, and his attention to detail, Damion is a likely candidate to move up on the work crew next year.

“There’s a good chance he could be a leader of a crew,” McClory said. “He takes care of what needs to be done, and he jumps in and helps where he’s needed.”

Like working with animals at the Boys Ranch, MCH provides a variety of opportunities for youth. Many of these extracurricular activities prove to be a source of comfort, stability and encouragement throughout the course of a youth’s time at the Home. Damion found his niche in caring for animals.

“Damion’s behavior has improved a lot since he’s been at the Boys Ranch,” said Ed Schmidt, a homeparent. “He’s very respectful to the staff and his peers.”

Steve Kruse, Ag teacher at the University of Texas University Charter School at MCH, leads youth through the process of caring for their animals and showing them for judging competitions. According to Kruse, youth develop a strong work ethic and life skills by participating in the Ag program.

“Through the livestock program, youth not only learn important lessons, but they gain confidence as well,” he said.

McClory said Damion’s leadership abilities and confidence in working with animals have grown tremendously since he joined the lamb crew.

“I would like to see Damion advance to the showmanship competition at livestock shows,” McClory said. “If he continues to listen and learn, he has the ability to win the showmanship belt buckle next year.”

Though Damion’s lamb did not place at the last livestock show in January, his response toward the outcome attests to his confidence, positive attitude and kind heart. “I had so much fun,” Damion said.

“I can’t wait to start working with my lamb for next year’s shows.”

See other Features