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Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources

4-H’er overcomes obstacles in the show ring and in life

STILLWATER, Okla. – Shelby Frost has an infectious laugh and a smile that will light up a room. But when she is in the show ring with her sheep, she is all business and ready to face any obstacle head on.

Frost, who is a six-year veteran of 4-H and a member of the Mulhall-Orlando 4-H Club, said she was interested in joining 4-H and showing sheep because her grandmother, mother and aunt all showed sheep, and she wanted to continue the family tradition. The fact she was born without a right arm or leg, and her left arm and leg were only partially developed, did not diminish Frost’s faith in her ability to do what she set her mind to do.

“I’ve always been pretty determined, so I didn’t ever think I couldn’t do it. There really isn’t much I can’t do, except brush my hair,” she said with a quick smile.

Arleen Mack, Frost’s grandmother, said she remembers when her girls showed sheep, there was a boy who was paralyzed from the waist down who also was participating in the livestock event.

“Years later, when Shelby told me she wanted to show sheep, I knew it could be done, but I just didn’t know how at the time,” Mack said.

Frost’s first attempts in the show ring were not as successful as she had hoped. In the beginning, the sheep was simply tied to Frost’s chair as she circled the arena. Unfortunately, this did not allow for the sheep to hold its head up and brace properly. So, as she had done all of her life, Frost adapted her approach.

Family friends Jeff Oldenburg and Dusty Oldenburg built a metal bracket that attached to Frost’s wheelchair. The adjustable bracket attaches to the animal with a harness and holds the lamb’s head up high in the proper position. There also is a plate in place to make the sheep stop walking when it is time for bracing. But it takes more than simply leading the animal around the ring in her motorized wheelchair.

“I have to train the sheep with verbal commands to stop and brace and get in the proper position for judging,” she said. “Taking care of sheep is hard work, but I can do it.”

Mack said other families who have children with disabilities have reached out after seeing photos of Frost and her specially equipped chair she uses in the show ring.

“It’s nice to know that through Shelby, other people with disabilities have discovered they can do the same things she is doing,” Mack said.

Never one to shy away from something because of her disability, Frost has been facing, and overcoming, challenges all of her life. And thanks to her involvement in 4-H, she said she has an even greater understanding of responsibility.

“I really like being in 4-H and it has definitely taught me responsibility,” Frost said. “I really have to manage my time, especially during the fair, because I have a lot of homework.”

She is a freshman at Guthrie High School, where she’s enrolled in pre-AP and AP classes and also is a member of FFA and the National Junior Honor Society. She hopes to attend Oklahoma State University after high school graduation.

Frost has taken on a number of leadership roles in 4-H, including serving as reporter and treasurer for her local club, as well as serving as Logan County vice president. Some of her other 4-H activities include canning peaches, cooking and raised-bed gardening. She has served as a delegate to State 4-H Roundup and attended the Northwest District Leadership Conference. She also helps with the Logan County Fair and participates in many different club and county events and activities.

Cynthia Klumpp, OSU Cooperative Extension 4-H educator in Logan County, said Frost is an amazing role model for other youth and adults.

“Shelby always has a positive attitude and is willing to do just about anything to help and encourage others. She always has a smile on her face and an easy laugh,” Klumpp said. “When it comes to showing sheep, she is very determined to show her animal to the best of her ability. She doesn’t let her disability slow her down and she has become a very beautiful and capable young lady. She is a great encourager to her younger sister, Madison, and other 4-H’ers and FFA members.”

Other 4-H’ers in Logan County also have learned from Frost. Klumpp said the 4-H’ers and their families encourage Frost and are there to assist when she needs some help. They have definitely learned more about compassion and helping others.

Klumpp said as an Extension educator, she is always learning new things, but said Frost has taught her a great deal about determination and attitude.

“I think the greatest thing I’ve learned from Shelby is that no matter your situation, you have the responsibility to determine your attitude,” she said. “Shelby looks at the world and doesn’t complain or whine about her situation. She simply moves forward and thinks about how she can do things instead of how she can’t.”

Determination is definitely a trait Frost was born with, said her mother, Stacy Foshee.

“She’s been determined from the time she was born,” Foshee said. “Sometimes when people see her, they think there’s more wrong with her than just her physical limitations. But it doesn’t take her long to exceed their expectations. And thanks to her involvement in 4-H, she’s even more confident and social.”

Mack said the family is especially grateful to two organizations, Diamond Hats and Agvocates for Exceptional Individuals, for their help in raising funds a few years ago to purchase the motorized chair Frost uses in the show ring.

The special chair, coupled with Frost’s positive attitude and determination, have definitely played a role in her showing success. At the recent Logan County Fair, she brought home a number of awards, including Grand Champion Shropshire Ram, Breed Champion Shropshire Ram and 1st place Shropshire Ram. These awards go nicely with the number of awards she has earned over past few years in the show ring.

When asked if she had any advice for youth who are just starting their 4-H careers, Frost said to never give up.

“If I’d given up a long time ago, I wouldn’t be able to do as much as I do now,” she said. “I face some challenges, but it’s all worth it.”

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Trisha Gedon
Communications Specialist
Agricultural Communications Services
Oklahoma State University
136 Agriculture North
Stillwater, OK  74078
405-744-3625 (phone)
405-744-5739 (fax)
trisha.gedon@okstate.edu

Oklahoma State University - Stillwater, OK 74078
405.744.5000

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