Youth Conservationist Program

The Youth Conservationist Program (YCP) is an adult/youth mentoring program that enables young aspiring shepherds to experience the joys and responsibilities of raising and conserving heritage breeds of wool sheep that may not be common in their area of the United States. Breeders who are willing to mentor youth donate a yearling ewe and help the recipient establish their own flock. Recipients are expected to fulfill the requirements of the YCP by promoting/showing their particular breed of sheep, breeding to a registered ram and by producing a woolen item using the fleece from their own animal. Donors award the ewes to their chosen recipients at the YCP Ceremony held annually at the festival. In 2019, 13 registered ewes were awarded to young shepherds. A number of our past recipients have also become donors and are reinvested in the same YCP program that helped them succeed.

Youth interested in applying for the 2020 Youth Conservationist Program need to be between 9 and 18 years old. If selected, youth must be present to receive the ewe at the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival on the Sunday of the event. They must agree to exhibit the ewe at least twice in 2020 at:

  1. a county fair or local sheep show; and
  2. the State Fair in the state where the recipient lives.

They must also agree to breed the ewe to a registered ram in the fall of 2020, and must agree to either use the ewe’s fleece to personally make a woolen item or sell the fleece to a spinner, felter, or weaver. Finally, they must submit a one-to-two page report, with pictures to the donor breeder by April 30, 2021.

Applications from interested youth must be postmarked by April 1, 2020. In the application/essay the youth should describe themselves, their experience with animals, explain their interest in sheep, and answer the question: “Why would I like to help conserve a heritage breed of sheep?” The total application/essay should be no more than 2 pages in length. The application must include address, phone and, if available, youth’s email address. Please also provide contact info (name/phone/email) for a parent or guardian. The applicant should indicate whether they wish to be considered for a particular breed or for any of the breeds available. Each applicant must also include a “letter of recommendation” from his or her 4-H Advisor, FFA Advisor, Veterinarian, Teacher, or Clergy.

Interested young people should contact Elaine Ashcraft at the address below or by email at for an updated list of breeds available, and then submit their letter of application/essay to: Elaine Ashcraft, 46118 CR 58, Coshocton, Ohio 43812. Emailed applications will not be accepted.

2020 Catalog Cover Artist

Presenting our 2020 catalog cover, featuring an original woodcut done just for us by Bobby Rosenstock of JustAJar Design Press.

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Since we weren't able to have a Breed Display Barn this year, some of you might be interested in this webinar that the American Sheep Industry Association recently sponsored.

"In this webinar we explore the amazing diversity of heritage sheep breeds found in America and how many are making a remarkable comeback as interest grows in small scale shepherding and in natural fiber arts. We discuss the decades long effort to bring rare sheep back from the brink of extinction and current efforts to develop new markets for their products. Learn about the conservation work and then listen to experiences of several rare breed sheep farmers as they recount the journey they have undertaken with their amazing sheep breeds"
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1 month ago  ·  

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Attention please! We ended up with a small quantity of 2020 merchandise left over from our virtual festival order. This includes short sleeve t-shirts, long sleeve t-shirts, sweatshirts, tote bags, sling bags, backpacks, posters, note cards and enamel pins. Sorry, no mugs, and not all sizes are available in the shirts and sweatshirts.

You can view these items at www.sheepman.com/product-category/maryland-sheep-wool-festival-online/, but because of the limited quantities you CANNOT ORDER THEM ONLINE. All items will be sold by telephone order ONLY on a first come, first served basis. Orders will be accepted by Sheepman Supply at 301-662-4197 Monday-Friday between 9:00 am and 4:00 pm. I repeat, orders will be accepted by TELEPHONE ONLY at 301-662-4197 Monday-Friday between 9:00 am and 4:00 pm.

This may be your last chance to get 2020 Festival merchandise!
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3 months ago  ·  

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