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Emerging Sheep Producers Program

Updated February 09, 2024
Professional headshot of Jaelyn Quintana

Jaelyn Whaley

SDSU Extension Sheep Field Specialist

The SDSU Extension Small Ruminant team is inviting sheep producers to participate in the SDSU Extension Emerging Sheep Producers Program. This program is designed for sheep producers who want to develop or improve a full or part-time sheep operation. Participation in the SDSU Extension Emerging Sheep Producers Program is a great opportunity to increase knowledge of all aspects of the sheep industry and improve the skills needed to be successful sheep shepherds. The program is open to people with 10 years or less of management experience in sheep production. If not currently involved in sheep production, participants must show a strong desire to manage a sheep operation in the future. The program will run from September 2023 through August 2024.

Program delivery will be a nine-session course that is a combination of workshops, webinars, hands-on field days, and networking opportunities. Throughout the course, participants can expect to receive hands-on experience working with sheep and a step-through process of developing a personalized business management plan. Whether a participant has ten or thousands of sheep this course is designed to help mitigate risk and increase overall success in raising sheep. Participants can also expect additional assistance through personalized, one-on-one consultation visits to their own operation or with mentors, if needed.

Program Overview

  • Applicants must complete and submit the form below by August 31, 2023.
  • Applicants must be older than 18 years of age with 10 years or less of management experience in sheep production. If not currently involved in sheep production, participants must show a strong desire to manage a sheep operation in the future.
  • Up to 20 people will be selected to participate based on an application. Couples and family members are welcome to apply from the same operation.
  • Participants must make a commitment to the entire program and actively participate in all program components with an open mind to learning new ideas. If more than one individual per operation is accepted, both individuals must fully participate.
  • Face-to-face activities will take place throughout the state. Participants will provide their own transportation and hotels to events. Meals associated with the meeting will be covered by the program.
  • Participant registration fee is $200 per person or $300 per couple. In addition, participants will be required to cover travel and hotel fees for in-person workshops. Please see the tentative timeline and location for estimated individual travel costs. 
  • The registration fee will be due upon acceptance into the program. Participants receive a lambing kit, ASI Sheep Production Handbook, grazing stick, and other great print and digital resources valued at over $250.

The SDSU Extension Emerging Sheep Producers Program involves face-to-face workshops, webinars, South Dakota industry tours, producer visits, and networking and mentoring opportunities.

  • Webinars: At least three webinars will be utilized to cover introductions to the program, basic nutrition, and additional producer panel discussions. Participants will be required to have a computer/device with high-speed internet access, and preferably camera capabilities to fully engage.
  • South Dakota industry tours: Two trips will expose participants to several facets of live animal, wool, and meat product markets. Information about auction markets, wool buyers, and lamb marketing will be explored. Hands-on experiences with sheep handling, wool testing, and lamb fabrication will be incorporated. Primary locations will be SDSU Sheep Unit and Meat Lab in Brookings, Newell Sheep Yards in Newell, and Center of the Nation Wool warehouse in Belle Fourche to name a few.
  • Sheep producer tours: Successful sheep producers will host tours of their operations and share insights into history, management, business or marketing plans, and decision-making criteria. Classroom and hands-on opportunities will be paired with producer tours to enhance the learning experiences.
  • Networking and Mentoring: Participants will interact with each other, successful producers, and other experts to develop relationships that improve the sustainability and success of individual operations. Experts include SDSU faculty and staff, state and federal partners, NGO staff, and industry representatives. One of the primary networking opportunities will be the 2023 South Dakota Sheep Growers Association Annual Convention in Rapid City on September 22 - 23.

Tentative Timeline

The timeline and session formats are subject to change. Dates will be finalized and shared as locations and participants are confirmed. Tentative in-person and webinar events are indicated below.

2023

  • September – WEBINAR – Introduction to SDSU Extension Emerging Sheep Producers Program
  • September 22-23 – IN-PERSON – Introduction to Sheep Production & South Dakota Sheep Growers Annual Convention (2-3 days)
  • October – IN-PERSON – Fall Lambing Tour/Producer Visit #1 (1 day)
  • December – IN-PERSON – Business and Financial Management

2024

  • January – WEBINAR – Introduction to Nutrition (split into 2 webinars)
  • May-August – IN-PERSON – Direct Meat Marketing & Sheep Handling (2 days)
  • June-July – IN-PERSON – West River Tour: Commodity marketing, Range & Grazing workshop (2 days)

Application Process

Please use the form below to apply for the SDSU Extension Emerging Sheep Producers Program. All applications are welcome, but preference will be given to applicants who have been actively managing a sheep operation for 10 years or less of their adult life. Consider “adult life” as starting after formal education (i.e., high school/technical school/college) and when management decisions were controlled by you. If you have questions, please contact Kelly Froehlich, Assistant Professor and SDSU Extension Small Ruminant Specialist, or Jaelyn Whaley, SDSU Extension Sheep Field Specialist.

Participant registration fee is $200 per person or $300 per couple. In addition, participants will be required to cover travel and hotel fees for in-person workshops.

Related Topics

Sheep Production