STUDENT OF THE MONTH: Learning from the lambs

Jan. 14, 2013 @ 02:51 PM

It was tough when Caitlin Liles first had to sell a lamb that she had raised.
“The first time, I did cry,” recalled Liles, a Jordan High School senior and vice president of the school’s Future Farmers of America club. “It was very hard, because it’s your life from January to April. But after the first one, it’s been OK, because now I know what to expect.”
The club buys a new lamb each year and raises the animal on a farm off Mt. Moriah Road in Durham. Liles has led the project for four years so far. She plans to pick up her last lamb on Jan. 26.
“We buy the lambs for about $200,” she said. “We walk them, feed them, trim their hooves, clean their stalls, and we have to train them for a show.”
The project requires several hours of work on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
“It’s a good amount of time,” she said, “but it’s a good learning experience. It teaches you a lot of responsibility. If you’re not there for your lamb, no one else is going to do it for you.”
The lambs don’t always make it easy, either.
“At first, they hate you and don’t want anything to do with you,” Liles said. “But once they get used to you, we’ve seen that the lamb usually reflects the person. My lambs have always been docile, friendly leaders.”
She would like to see the lamb project continue long after she has graduated and moved on.
“It’s a good opportunity to do something not a lot of other people get to do,” Liles said. “You develop leadership skills, time management, and you learn about hard work and dedication.”
She’s also a member of the National Honor Society and tutors her peers in her favorite subject, science.
In what little spare time she has, she participates in Jordan’s Ukulele Club.
“Two really good friends got me hooked on it,” Liles said. “It’s kind of what I do as a stress relief. It’s small, portable, fun to play, and it makes you happy when you play it.”
Daniel Beasley, the FFA adviser who nominated Liles for Student of the Month, said that she has “always gone above and beyond with everything she has done” for the club.
“She wants to participate in every event we do, and wants to succeed at everything she tries,” he said. “Even being so active, she has not lost track of her studies.”
He’s proud that she is getting recognition for the hard work of the past four years, but it “really leaves me with a hole in my heart, knowing she will be gone, off to college, soon,” he said. “I guess that’s the up-side and down-side of being a teacher.”

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About the award
Duke University and its Office of Durham and Regional Affairs are proud to sponsor Duke University’s Durham Student of the Month.
The Office of Durham and Regional Affairs strives to broaden and strengthen engagement with Durham and the Research Triangle region. Visit to learn more about the office’s educational outreach, neighborhood quality of life and economic development initiatives.

About Caitlin
Age: 17
School: Jordan High School
Favorite Subject: Science
Future Plans: Attending N.C. State University after graduation Eventually, she wants to become a veterinarian for exotic pets
Favorite Music: Country
Favorite Movie: “The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King”
Favorite Book: “Where the Red Fern Grows” by Wilson Rawls
In Her Spare Time: Likes to play the ukulele