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Nebraska Ag News Headlines
Unified showing - inclusive 4-H club empowers youths with disabilities
Nebraska Ag Connection - 11/16/2023

Allison Walbrecht, a Lincoln Southwest High School student, founded the Unified Showing 4-H Club in 2020. The club combines her agricultural passion with a mission to empower children with disabilities through "showman and buddy" partnerships, allowing disabled youth to learn animal husbandry and participate in livestock exhibitions.

Walbrecht's idea quickly transformed into a reality when Josh Layman an autistic youth, joined the club. His natural affinity with the animals and subsequent success as a showman at the Lancaster County Fair exemplified the club's transformative impact.

Calvin DeVries, a Nebraska Extension 4-H educator, praised Unified Showing's growing influence and potential to expand statewide. Additional counties, including Gage, Otoe, and Box Butte, have adopted the club's model, reflecting its success.

Unified Showing has not only benefited its members but also their families and the wider community. Kristi Layman, Josh's mother, expressed immense joy and pride in seeing her son growing in the program. The club's events have garnered significant attention and admiration from fairgoers.

The program's positive impact extends to the teen buddies, who experience personal growth and build valuable relationships. Some buddies come from agricultural backgrounds, while others are new to livestock care, broadening the reach and influence of the club.

Expanding her vision, Walbrecht has launched Unified Agriculture, a direct-to-consumer beef-sales business providing employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. Co-founded with Claire Bruns, one of the club's first showmen, the enterprise currently manages eight head of purebred Angus steers.

Walbrecht's ambition encompasses sustaining Unified Showing and Unified Agriculture while pursuing a career in agricultural marketing. Her ultimate joy comes from sharing her lifelong industry passion with those who might not otherwise have such opportunities.

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