When TEP Remittance Specialist Jennifer Fahrmeyer heads to the Pima County Fair each year for the 4-H Junior Livestock Auction, she usually plans to scramble to see all 400 exhibitors before representing the company in the fast-paced livestock auction.
This year, with the Fairgrounds closed to limit the spread of COVID-19, her day is going to look a bit different.
Fahrmeyer will be glued to her computer screen, buying from five different students from 4-H and the Future Farmers of America at what is now an online auction.
“We’re proud to participate because not only do children learn lessons in responsibility, business skills and leadership, but local charities receive healthy food to help limited-income clients,” Fahrmeyer said. “Some of the children also come from low-income families themselves, and they rely on this income to help them offset college expenses or living expenses.”
TEP is celebrating more than 50 years of sponsoring children in the 4-H program and the company’s 40th year of serving as a buyer.
Fahrmeyer has served as a buyer for TEP for the past 8 years. Her roots date to her sophomore year in high school, when she joined 4-H and started raising pigs. It was a family affair. Her dad participated as a boy, raising lambs. Her aunts raised horses. Her younger siblings followed in her footsteps.
“I remember being surprised at how much you had to learn and be responsible for,” she recalled, noting she learned to draw upon science, math and communication skills, as well as social skills as she connected with other students from other walks of life.
Now as a buyer, she receives more than 50 letters each year from students inviting her to the fair to see their projects. Students are judged on the quality of their letters, their ability to show and control their animals, and the quality of the livestock.
One fourth grader recently wrote to Fahrmeyer inviting her to bid on his pigs. “I put a lot of time and effort into caring for and working with my pigs,” he said. “I want to be sure the pigs I raise are top quality when it is time to market them.”
A 13-year-old shared she had been looking forward to selling her rabbits at the auction. “This is not the way myself and my 4H friends wanted this year to go, but I am trying to make the best of it,” she wrote. “I know they had to cancel the fair so that many people can stay healthy and we can try to beat this ugly virus.”
Laura Levin, President of the Pima County Junior Livestock Sales Committee, said 4-H and FFA participants are appreciative of corporate investment in the programs.
“TEP’s longstanding support helps kids find a spark through hands-on learning opportunities that put them on a trajectory to help them build a brighter future,” she said. “These students go on to make our food future more secure and to use their heads, hearts, hands and health to make life better for their clubs and their communities.”