REG-L-WoolQueen

Rebecca Kugler, 16, the state wool queen, with Dakota, one of her Corriedale sheep.

Dakota fans will be thrilled.

The sweet-natured Corriedale ewe from Oley, named Supreme Champion Wool Breed at the 2019 Pennsylvania Farm Show, will be back at the 2020 show Jan. 4-11 in Harrisburg.

The sheep's handler, Rebecca Kugler, 16, will make sure of that.

"They are the universal breed, used for their wool and meat," Kugler said of Corriedales. "Their temperament makes them easy to work with."

That's just the kind of experience and knowledge that state officials were looking for in a state lamb and wool queen.

"This is something I've been working really hard for," said Kugler, the Berks County Lamb and Wool Queen who won the state wool queen contest in November.

"I was excited," she said. "It’s something that kind of brings it all together."

Kugler is a junior at Oley Valley High School and the daughter of Mark and Julie Kugler. Besides raising sheep, she works three days a week at a horse farm.

"Rebecca will make a very knowledgeable and outgoing Pennsylvania Lamb and Wool Queen," said Nancy Bowman, lamb and wool queen coordinator for the Berks County Sheep and Wool Growers Association.

"Through her work in 4-H she has gained substantial background knowledge on sheep management," Bowman said. "Rebecca is also a friendly young woman with a ready smile. She is always ready and willing to help other people, especially younger 4-Hers just starting their flocks."

Kugler is the sixth young woman from Berks County in the last 20 years to become the state wool queen, according to Bowman, who has been working with teens in the program since 1998.

It all began eight years ago, as Kugler received guidance and encouragement from Ruth Hartman, a Berks breeder of champion Correidales who died in 2015 at the age of 89. When Kugler was 13, she received the Ruth Hartman Memorial Award.

"As I got further in this, I really thought back to her a lot," Kugler said of Hartman. "I was just at a church speaking the other week, and (the subject of) Ruth came up.

"So much of my story is hers," Kugler said. "She taught me about hard work, and working toward a goal. I hope that she would be really happy and proud that I've made the steps I have," she said.

"I've done it honestly, and I've done it on my own," she said, quickly adding that she's received help along the way. But as far as her "progression as a person," that's been a solitary journey.

As a representative of the Pennsylvania Sheep and Wool Growers Association, Kugler will be at the Farm Show in January, presenting ribbons and immersing herself in sheep and wool goodness.

“My purpose is to get out in the public and draw some attention to the Association,” said Kugler, who has the help of the two members of her royal wool court.

The educational aspect of agriculture speaks to her.

"I love educating people about what I love to do," Kugler says. "I'm just comfortable with it."

Wool has been called the ultimate renewable resource, and Kugler heartily agrees, saying, "Wool does a lot. It’s a fiber that works in clothing, but its attributes are so different from cotton or typical fabrics.

"Agriculture is something that’s so important," she continued. "People are missing that connection. This is another opportunity to represent my industry, specifically, and to really educate others on why this is important and why spending time learning about it is important."

After eight years of raising the breed exclusively, Kugler thinks all Corriedales are sweet and affectionate. Clearly, the 4-Her and FFA member has had a hand in Dakota's outcome — feeding the ewe, grooming her and protecting her wool.

Taking care of animals day in and day out takes supreme self-discipline.

"It's not about being there when you can, it's about being there when you can't," Kugler said.

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