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Local rabbit champ dreams of national stage

Local rabbit champ dreams of national stage

Kayla Hilvers, a champion rabbit breeder at the Stanislaus County Fair, is hoping to raise enough funds to show three of her rabbits, including Junior Man, pictured here, at the American Rabbit Bre...


POSTED August 18, 2009 11:44 p.m.
Mountain View 4-H member Kayla Hilvers didn’t need a rabbit’s foot as a good luck charm to capture 17 awards at the Stanislaus County Fair. She had the whole rabbit.
In fact, Kayla has 24 rabbits and one big dream for a 14-year-old rabbit breeder — to show some of her rabbits at the American Rabbit Breeders Association National Convention in November.
The American Rabbit Breeders Association is to rabbit shows as the Westminster Dog Show is to dog breeders. With nearly 30,000 members, it’s the premiere competition for rabbit enthusiasts. It’s national convention draws in competitors from around the world, with more than 20,000 rabbits being shown, which makes it the largest gathering of rabbits in the world.
“It is some really tough competition, but that is what drives me,” Kayla said.
Kayla first started showing rabbits two years ago as a member of the Mountain View 4-H club. She took to the furry animals right away and showed a knack for breeding, or what she calls “date night.” Of the 17 awards she earned at the Stanislaus County Fair, six were for first place and three were for grand champion.
“Kayla has amazed me by what she has learned,” said her mom, Becky Turner-Hilvers, who served as the group’s rabbit leader. “She has already gained a good word of mouth reputation as a breeder.”
“I just thought they were small, cute, and fun,” Kayla said of what drew her to rabbits.
They may still be small, cute, and fun, but Kayla now knows they are also hard work.
Everyday she is responsible for feeding, watering, grooming, and caring for her stock of 24. Add to that the work of breeding and keeping them all safe and healthy, and Kayla has her hands full. Yet, the new Turlock High School freshman managed to graduate with honors and was awarded the president’s Academic Award from Mountain View Middle School.
Kayla has aspirations of turning her love of animals into a career and spent some of her summer vacation shadowing veterinarians at the Monte Vista Small Animal Hospital.
Kayla has picked out the three breeds she hopes to show at the American Rabbit Breeders Association convention and in her spare time is studying up on rabbit knowledge and showmanship skills for her own part in the competition. Only one hurdle remains for Kayla before she can show at the conference — money. The estimated cost of travel, lodgings, entrance fees, and transporting the rabbits falls between $3,000 to $3,500. So far, she’s raised about $1,000.
Anyone wishing to donate to Kayla’s rabbit show fund can do so through US Bank, 427 E. Olive Ave., Turlock, CA. 95380. Checks should be made in care of Kayla Hilvers. Donations need to be received by the start of October to meet registration deadlines.
To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail sstafford@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.
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