Damon (left) practices with his rabbit every day in the weeks
leading up to fair, here with FFA advisor Matt Chisam.
Photo credit: Laurie Shackleford, via Thurston Talk.
– “Yelm FFA’s Damon Heard-Shackleford Overcomes Autism to Show at Thurston County Fair”
“When Laurie Shackleford, mother of Damon Heard-Shackleford, age 15, went to orientation at Yelm High School for incoming students last year, she happened upon the Future Farmers of America (FFA) booth. Damon has autism, and because of this Laurie is always looking for ways to help him socialize and participate. “I want him involved in things with kids,” she explains. “Kids with autism have a tendency to want to be in their own world, and I don’t allow that. Activities provide mandatory social time.”
Laurie was struck by the accomplishments of the Yelm FFA. The group, comprised of more than 1,000 youth led by eight advisors, is a 5-Star Chapter and winner of the National Chapter of Excellence Award, placing number one in the country. It is also a “model of excellence” award winner,” by Kristina Lotz, Thurston Talk.