By: Samantha Conners, Contributing Writer
Mr. Scott Stone and Mrs. Lori Lewis nominated Mariah Barr for the January FFA SAE Spotlight. She is a sophomore at Centralia High School and is involved in FTA, FFA, 4-H, Student Council, the Pinto Horse Association and the American Quarter Horse Association. Additionally, she is the Drama Club visual arts manager and a 4-H Horsemanship Junior Leader.
According to Barr, her SAE is breeding and raising dogs. Her main SAE goal is to breed quality stock, find good homes for puppies, highlight Pomskies, a developing breed, and continue the family business, Whitegate Kennels.
Barr is a third-generation dog breeder here in Missouri. Her grandpa started the business, and now she and her family work to own and maintain the family business. At Whitegate, they work hard to present the best possible “fur-ever” additions to any family, and a lot of love goes into each puppy before they find them their new family. Her main focus is working with the dogs.
Dog breeding is her family’s business, which really led her to become involved in it. Barr’s grandpa ran the business for more than 40 years. Then her mother took over after he retired. She now is a part of the management and operation team. Her favorite part of her SAE is working with the puppies and seeing the joy they bring to their new families.
Barr has learned to be very patient because sometimes things do not go as planned. For example, sometimes she experiences dogs eating their fur, manages plane ride issues and encounters buyers backing out of deals. She has also learned that the best families come in many different shapes and sizes and from any number of places.
Barr began to work with the dogs as part of her SAE last summer when their new facility opened in Centralia, Missouri. Their new location has allowed her family to expand their business because they received four new breeding females, a litter of puppies and several new males ready for breeding. Her network with other dog breeders throughout the nation has greatly expanded, and she can proudly state that she and her family have produced pets that are loved by families all over the United States. Barr believes FFA has really helped her understand the importance of keeping financial records regarding her business ventures.
The objective of a Supervised Agricultural Experience is to work with educational programs to better prepare FFA students for their future careers. The simple skills such as communication and patience will help them succeed in life. Scott Stone, FFA adviser, says he has his students do an SAE for the learning experience. He says they can explore any career interest they may have and even find a field they might not want to follow. Stone said, “I hope they all have the chance to earn a profit, but I hope they can learn what areas they are interested in as a potential career.”
If you would like to learn more about Barr’s SAE, you can find the her on Facebook at Jenny’s Whitegate Pomskies and on Instagram at @The_Dogs_Of_Whitegate.