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Agricultural program helps students with special needs compete at Florida State Fair

Posted at 11:19 AM, Apr 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-30 11:19:55-04

TAMPA, Fla. — Nico Sommer and his cow Patty are inseparable.

He got Patty after winning an essay contest last summer and has been taking care of the cow ever since.

"Let me tell you, she is one good cow,” Sommer said.

The 10-year-old has special needs. Through the Sassy Cows for Savvy Kids program, he’s learned all about caring for the animals.

The program pairs students with special needs with students participating in Riverview High School’s agriculture program.

The kids learn how the cows grow. They feed them, groom them and keep record books. The program is run by agriculture teacher Karen Hamilton who started it 20 years ago.

“A lot of it, is them getting the hands-on experience, learning those life skills. They do a record book so they learn all about the financial end of it,” said Hamilton.

They care for cows throughout the year and then compete at the Florida state Fair.

“It helps me to have my own responsibility for a cow. It helps me to walk them and do good in a show,” said Thomas Campoamor.

“Watching the kids be able to go out into that show ring and show off their animals and take pride in what they’ve done. And they don’t really care what place they’re in, they just want to be out there and showing,” Hamilton said.

For Nico it’s about spending time with his favorite girl.

“I get to see animals that I truly adore and love,” said Sommer.