Five high school students in the Future Farmers of America (FFA) program in Fullerton, CA recently opted to send the animals they raised to a sanctuary, local media outlet OC Register reports. Participants in the program—designed to teach children about animal agriculture—spend their own money to purchase animals, food, and necessary equipment to raise the animals and then sell them at auction for slaughter in hopes of recouping their investment. Instead, prior to last month’s OC Fair’s annual Junior Livestock Auction, the students connected with farmed animal rescue group Farm Sanctuary to secure care for the animals at its Acton, CA location. The animals—goats Bruce, Pam, and Kevin, and sheep Shawn and Phry—now live at the sanctuary, along with other residents rescued from slaughter and abuse. Rilea Reed, 15, explained that she formed a bond with Phry, a lamb who had difficulty walking on hikes. “I won’t judge other people. But I personally don’t want to do that,” Reed said about sending animals to slaughter for food. “They’re not being encouraged to find another option,” Farm Sanctuary farmer Gene Baur said about students participating in the FFA programs. “Their conscience, and their empathy, often have to be shut off to pursue these things.” Sabrina Ifantis—a 15-year-old student who raised Kevin the goat—will no longer participate in FFA after seeing animals slaughtered for meat, stating, “I didn’t think it would hit me so hard.”

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