Alyssa Ratcliff recently graduated from Orange High School and will be attending Virginia Tech in the fall to continue her education by studying Landscape Architecture and Design.
Alyssa has been a member of the Orange County 4-H Livestock Club for 7 years, where she has shown and sold sheep at the county fair every year. She got interested in 4-H because several of her friends were involved, and she said that some of her best memories from her experience in 4-H were the friendships she made. She said that it was great to participate in a program where even though at the end of the day all the club members were competing against each other at the fair, there was a great spirit of helpfulness and teamwork. Some of the older members of the Livestock Club helped teach her how to show sheep when she first joined, and now Alyssa has helped teach her younger brother how to show. “Helping him learn how to do it, but then being able to see him do it by himself” is one of her favorite memories from her years in 4-H.
When asked what the greatest lesson she learned from 4-H was, she said “hard work and respect will get you so far.” Raising her sheep for the fair required time and dedication every single day throughout the year to make sure they were fed and exercised, and required that she interact with the community to find buyers for her animals at the fair. Her greatest accomplishment in 4-H was when her hard work paid off and she won grand champion lamb at the 2015 Orange County Fair. Alyssa said one of the greatest things about 4-H was the opportunities it gave her to give back to the community. She has helped collect and sort food for the food bank, laid wreaths at the Culpeper National Cemetery, and has volunteered at the Therapeutic Adventure Camp of Orange, working with youth with special needs.