Diamond Hats Step Up to Support Exhibitors at the Oklahoma Youth ExpoFri, 14 Mar 2014 14:10:23 CDT
All during the Oklahoma Youth Expo--and long before it begins each year-there is a group of women from all walks of agriculture that dedicate their efforts to supporting the young people who exhibit their livestock at the OYE. They are known as the Diamond Hats.
Lacey Dale Gracia, an executive board member with the Diamond Hats, tells Radio Oklahoma Network's Farm Director Ron Hays that the group had its beginning in 2005. (You can listen to their conversation by clicking on the LISTEN BAR at the bottom of this story. You can also watch them on this week's "In the Field" segment on News 9 about 6:40 a.m. Saturday.)
"It was the brain-child of Marilyn Harrel, Bob Funk, and the late Justin Whitefield. They really wanted to create an organization that ladies could step up and find lots of creative ways to financially raise the funds and support the kids in and out of the show ring."
They do that in a big way each year with a gala in the fall. In concert with the OYE each spring, they hold a silent auction during the Sale of Champions. Gracia says they raise several thousand dollars during the auction that they immediately spend on the exhibitors that night at the sale.
"Along with that we do 'This One's for the Girls.' This year's theme is 'Booting Out Bullying.' It's really just a time for girls to escape and come as they are from the hog pen, from fitting their steer and come sparkle with us, be inspired and motivated and have fun."
"This One's for the Girls" is an afternoon of entertainment, fashion and fun just for the girls attending OYE. The event strives to teach young women proper etiquette, dress attire for all occasions, leadership skills and self confindence while utilizing a number of the most successful businesswomen in the agricultural industry today as mentors.
This year's featured guest is Betty Thompson Richey, Miss Oklahoma 2011 and First Runner Up to Miss America 2012.
"She's a very, very talented Irish dancer and she's so entertaining, but also very inspiring and has so much education for the girls. They all look up to her. And it will really be nice for them to be mentored by her while we all have fun," Gracia says.
She says they also give away door prizes to the girls attending and this year they include diamonds and a pair of boots.
A relatively new project for the Diamond Hats and the OYE is a collaborative effort with the Regional Food Bank. It began with students whose animals didn't make it into the Sale of Champions, but who decided to donate their animals to the food bank instead of selling them for market prices. The idea caught on and it's making an impact outside of the OYE community.
"Those kids, a couple of years ago, made that decision and the Oklahoma Youth Expo's really run with it and created a competition amongst the kids that they're really enjoying to see which FFA chapter donates the most animals- And then the chapter that wins the completion will receive a trophy and a lot of other awards as well as the $500 donation, but the kids are really having great fun with the camaraderie of it and knowing it serves a greater purpose."
Gracia says they encourage anyone working with the Diamond Hats or participating in their activities at the OYE this year to take pictures and post them on the Diamond Hats Facebook page.
More information on the Diamond Hats is available on their website by clicking here.
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