Earlier this summer Kayla Lenhart, 14, was recovering from heart surgery. Now the Lewistown teenager is showing livestock at The Great Frederick Fair and planning a trip to the World Dairy Expo.
“She did phenomenal after the surgery,” said her mother, Brenda Lenhart. “The doctors expected her to be down for a little while. But all she kept saying was 'I want to show. I want to show.'”
Lenhart was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, which means the left side of her heart is underdeveloped. The July surgery replaced the battery in her pacemaker, which was implanted about six years ago.
She will need follow-up medical care for the rest of her life.
Brenda Lenhart said she's happy that her daughter returned to showing livestock so quickly after the surgery.
“She's very strong-willed,” she said.
So far this year, Kayla has won awards at the Maryland State Fair in Timonium and the American Dairy Show in Harrisburg, Pa. She plans to show at the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wis., in October.
Kayla brought Ginger, an Ayrshire fall calf, and Rianna, a 2-year-old Brown Swiss, to the fair in Frederick this year.
Both cows will be in the supreme champion show tonight.
Lenhart has four cows, ranging in age from less than a year to 4 years old. She started showing cows when she turned 8 years old, the minimum requirement for 4-H.
“I get really attached to my cows,” she said Thursday inside one of the fairgrounds' dairy barns.
She feeds her cows every morning before school, and then she comes home to wash and walk them each afternoon.
Donielle Axline, 4-H Youth Development Extension educator, said raising livestock teaches children in the 4-H program how to balance demands in life and helps them develop a strong work ethic.
There are 350 children with livestock projects at the fair this year and a total of 500 4-H children involved, Axline said.
“It teaches youth at a very young age time management skills and how to be responsible,” she said. “They also get to learn about animals and make sure they're just as healthy as a parent would want their child to be healthy.”
Brenda Lenhart said she is proud of Kayla's success.
“She has a really good animal this year, and she's able to show,” she said. “She's done very well.”
Follow Danielle E. Gaines on Twitter: @danielleegaines.