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COLUMBIA CITY â She knows a champion sheep when she sees it and is reaping the rewards.
Eryn Schinbeckler is only 16 years old and has recently added more sheep championships to her trophy case. But this easy going Columbia City High School junior isnât about to brag.
âShowing sheep is just what we do,â said Schinbeckler.
Competing against 850 other sheep, Schinbeckler won the 2012 Reserve Champion Suffolk and Fourth Overall Market Lamb at the Indiana State Fair.
She competed in the Grand Drive, traditionally one of 4-Hers top goals.
âThis was my second time in the Grand Drive and it was so cool. This year was especially endearing because it will be the last time in the Pepsi Coliseum as we know it,â said Schinbeckler.
The Pepsi Coliseum at the ISF is undergoing major reconstruction and remodeling to enable to have indoor concerts in there. The construction is expected to last two years.
âDuring the Grand Drive it is so awesome the way your name and county is announced. They tell a little bit about your background as well.
âAll of the representatives of the many species (sheep, beef, goat) are spoke about and itâs so quiet and you can hear an echo. Itâs just full of people watching. Itâs the biggest show I compete in and I love it,â said Schinbeckler.
The sheep judge was Gene Winn of New Mexico.
âWe didnât expect to win but to get it is amazing,â said Eryn.
She gave up the Columbia City High School FFA judging contest for this show.
âIt was exciting being in the ISF Sale of Champions. My lamb went for $2,500. I am so grateful to my many buyers,â she said.
âThatâs a great price considering this yearâs economy and the normal price for sheep is 88 cents per pound and they only weigh 140 ($123.20),â said Colleen Schinbeckler, Erynâs mother.
Eryn and her family, saw other items at the ISF Sale of Champions go for extravagant amounts of money.
âThere was this vegetable cart that went for $11,000. It was very pretty but really? That much for vegetables?â she said.
A cache of honey went for $5,600. And the Reserve Grand Champion Beef went for $10,500.
In 2005, Schinbecklerâs lamb sold for $8,200 and she was very happy about that price.
âEach 4-Her has to raise funds to sell at the Sale of Champions and itâs hard to do considering we just came from our county fair. Thatâs hard to raise that money and we so appreciate our supporters. They really stepped upâ said Colleen.
Other neighboring states have a Buyersâ Club for their state fairs.
The Schinbecklerâs show sheep pretty much year round. They are in a circuit called the Indiana Junior Club Lamb Circuit.
âMy sister, Kyra, and I show sheep at open shows around Indiana and accumulate points. After the awards at IFS they announced I was fourth over all in the IJCLC which is amazing,â she said.
âWe have a lot of sleepless nights, mostly during the winter months,â said Colleen.
Todd Schinbeckler, Eryn and Kyraâs father, has installed a security camera to monitor the sheep around the clock from the house.
âWe have a lot of chores with the sheep. Morning and night we do the chores,â said Eryn.
She is realistic when she sells her sheep.
Colleen tells her favorite 4-H memory.
âShe was a first-year 4-H member and she was lined up with all the other kids selling their sheep and animals at the Whitley County 4-H Auction. She looked at me and asked me why they were all crying. I gently told her that some animals are not as lucky and they have to be sold for meat and those kids are sad to say goodbye to their animals. Eryn just looked at me with those big brown eyes and said, âNot me. Iâm not sad. They can have it. Sheep are so stupid and dumb,ââ said Colleen.
âThus the need for a shepherd,â said Eryn.
The Schinbecklers will travel to Kansas City for a sheep show in October. Theyâll travel to Louisville, Ky., for the International Livestock Invitational in November.
âI would love to go Denver in January but we have to sleep sometime. The sheep circuit begins again in April with all new sheep,â said Eryn.
And in July 2013 sheâll go for her fourth 4-H Whitley County Championship.
âIâll never set the record by Brett Slack. He won champion his entire career it seems,â said Eryn.
Schinbeckler is active in CCHS FFA, Student Council, Mayor Ryan Danielâs Columbia City Youth Council and a member of the Indiana Junior Sheep Association Board.
She is unsure about college but knows she wants to be in the medical field.
Schinbecklerâs grandparents are Les and Sharon Krider of Columbia City and Harold and Judy Schinbeckler of Churubusco.