2016 GALA President's Message  by Jane Hamilton-Marritt.


The 2016 Board of Directors

President
Jane Hamilton-Merritt - Redding Ridge, Connecticut
Term Ending December 2017

Here at Poverty Hollow Llamas, we currently have seven llamas all of whom are characters, lovable and beautiful. Over the fourteen years, we and our llamas have participated in local Christmas events, town historical society affairs, and traveled the trails of our surrounding forests.

Over the past decade my involvement with GALA members has been an extraordinarily wonderful experience. When advice was sought, GALA directors and members responded promptly with clear and informed counsel.

The annual GALA conferences provide llama and alpaca owners with seasoned and world-class veterinarians on llama heath and medicine and experts on training, showing, fiber processing, and making money with camelids. All the tools and information so critical to successful camelid ownership.

GALA has given me and my Poverty Hollow Llamas so much. When I was invited to join the GALA board, I was thrilled. Perhaps, I thought, as a Board Member, I can find ways to demonstrate my gratefulness to this organization and its wonderful membership.

Jane can be reached at: limasite98@aol.com
Vice-President
Terry Beal - Jefferson, Maine

Term Ending December 2017

My name is Terry Beal and I live with my wife, Philippa, and 17 llamas in Jefferson, Maine. Jefferson was a place that we chose twenty years ago when we thought it would be fun to possibly retire and raise some llamas. When we ventured out to look for a farm site in Maine, we stumbled across the perfect property and then, totally by chance, we discovered that there was a very large llama farm contiguous to this property. After meeting our neighbors and their forty llamas, the die was cast. We purchased Hidden Acres farm and six years later we moved here and began our wonderful life with llamas.

My first contact with GALA came in 1994, just after I signed my retirement papers (after thirty years in Chicago). I decided to come East to help out with the GALA conference being held in Freedom, Maine. It was extremely exciting. I met and roomed with the legendary John Mallon. I frolicked with llamas from as far away as Georgia. I saw Lars Garrison load four llamas into the back of a covered pickup in seconds, a site which still amazes me to this day. I've been to nearly every GALA conference since then and have helped out on many.

At a GALA conference in Rome, New York, many years ago I learned how to participate in a Llama Drill Team thanks to Donna Moore who invented the concept out in Ohio. It was so much fun that, a few years later, I started up the Maine Llama Drill team and, together, we performed to standing ovations here for years.
Clearly GALA is a big part of my life and I feel privileged to serve on its Board where so many luminaries of the industry have preceded me.

Terry can be reached at hdnacres@prexar.com

 

Treasurer
Carol Millard - Ashford, Connecticut
Carol Millard

Carol is the GALA Treasurer but not a board member

My introduction to llamas in 1999 was on a cold February day flying across a field of light snow in a cart pulled by a large male llama. It was exhilarating and I was hooked on these four-legged furry creatures. Since then Misty Meadows Farm has grown slowly at first (3 llamas to 5 llamas) to an average of 4 crias a year and an average of 20 llamas on the farm at any one time. All aspects of the llama industry have intrigued me but education and research are my main interests; educating the first time buyer and research into genetics and parasitology of camelids. I have been to a few of the GALA conferences and was impressed with the quality of workshops and the knowledge of all those around me. Although I still believe I am a newbie in the llama world, I offer my knowledge and help as treasurer to an organization that is clearly in line with my philosophy toward llamas.

Carol can be reached at cmillard@usj.edu  www.mistymeadowsllamas.com

 

Secretary
Carol Reigh - Birdboro, Pennsylvania
Carol Reigh

Term Ending December 2019

Carol Reigh has been involved with llamas since 1997 when they bought their first 4 llamas to help keep the pastures mowed.   Sixteen years later, she has 33 llamas with a commitment to stay between 30- 35 llamas. She has maintained that number every year except for one, when a new stud, Eskalero, was added to the herd. Besides the goals of breeding for good dispositions, solid conformation and ultra silky fiber, Carol is committed to GALA and PLAA because of their emphasis on educating current and future lama owners to Camelid care. 
 

Since 1997 she has attended every GALA conference, served on the GALA and PLAA boards for 6 years and is currently serving this year to fill a vacancy.  Carol has been a part of the election committee for at least 4 years, co-chaired two GALA conferences (2007 and 2010) and served on several conference committees. 
 

An avid show person, Carol is also involved on a National level in showing both her animals and/or their fleece. She feels that showing helps to keep her educated for her own breeding program and also monitors how her animals compare to others. This prevents “barn blindness” in a breeder. She is currently in an apprentice program to become an ILR certified halter judge. 
 

Besides showing, this llama lover takes her animals to nursing homes, schools, parades, and the polls on election day.  Community groups and schools come out to the farm and every year Buck Hollow Llamas has an Open Barn to introduce and educate people to these incredible animals.
 

Visit her website www.buckhollowllamas.com

Carol can be reached at carol@buckhollowllamas.com

 

Director
Kelly Ralph - Yaphank, New York
Term ending December 2018

My love affair with llamas began with my daughter Meaghan's 4-H project.  We purchased those first two llamas and enjoyed watching her work and show them.  Eventually, I began to show llamas with her and for her and our small herd began to grow.  My family and I maintain a small herd (8) of llamas.  I enjoy my "morning time" with them, watching them interact with each other and their babies.  I enjoy all sorts of fiber arts; quilting, knitting, crocheting and spinning.

I am the past co-chair for the 2011 GALA Conference and the chairperson for the 2012 GALA Conference. 

Kelly can be reached at lazyllamaranch@optonline.net

 
Director
Mike Sheridan - East Aurora, NY

Term ending December 2019

My first encounters with llamas occurred during three summer expeditions in the mid 1980’s when I was a NASA geoscientist mapping volcanic rocks in the altiplano of Bolivia. I was struck by the beauty and serenity of these majestic animals that were typically guided in huge herds by a lone man and his dog. The llamas transported essential goods such as salt from the playas in the high Andes down into the Amazonian rain forest below where they were traded for wood and other natural goods that they brought back to supply essentials for life in the mountains.

It was not until 1995, however, that I obtained the first llama for my 18 acre farm on the Niagara Frontier of New Your State. I soon after purchased the best foundation dam and herd sire that I could afford and started a small breeding program that focused on producing classic llamas for performance and conformation. My herd reached a maximum of 20 llamas and now stands at 9 llamas. Every day I spend at least 5 minutes with each llama in my herd in a one-on-one training/etiquette session to develop our relationships. I enjoy show competition at the local, regional, and national level, entering about 6 shows per year. I exhibit in fiber competition, when available, and also produce spun yarn for sale. A major part of my farm activity is training youth in llama husbandry and showmanship. Currently there are about 10 young people from my farm who compete in youth divisions at shows.

I am a retired university professor and researcher who spent his entire career in education, starting in 1965 Arizona State University and ending at the University at Buffalo in 2006. I have lived in several foreign countries and loved hiking to the top of the highest mountains available. This is my first term on the GALA board.

Mike can be reachec at mfsllamas@gmail.com 
 
Director
Barb Baker - Mount Vernon, Ohio


Term ending December 2019

Barb has been raising llamas since 1995 at Baker & Company Llamas, along with husband Steve Vicars (he’s the “Company”) and got wrapped up in the fiber about eight years into the venture and finds this part of the experience to be creative and rewarding. When not tending to their herd of 60 llamas and two alpacas, she is an avid showperson and travels to llama shows around the country. Barb’s “day job” for the last seven years is the Associate Director of the International Camelid Institute, located at The Ohio State University. She has served on the boards of LANA and ORVLA and for five years was the coordinator of the Llama Cooperative exhibit at the National FFA Convention. She has also acted as the co-moderator for the annual Camelid Community meeting in Kansas City for the past nine years. She is proud and thrilled to be on the GALA board.

Barb can be reached at: bebaker@earthlink.net  www.bakercompanyllamas.com
 
Director
Audrey Lee  - Keswick, VA

My husband , Ed, and I were introduced to llamas in 1993 and began our adventure with these remarkable animals with the purchase of 4 later that year. Over the next few years, through additional purchases and our own breeding program, our herd rapidly grew to nearly 50. My husband, a now retired physician, studied their veterinarian needs by attending numerous programs on health care and typical medical conditions which can plague llamas while I took responsibility for their day to day needs. We began showing our llamas in 1993 and have enjoyed not only the show circuit but also the wonderful people we met along the way. Though we limited our show experience to competing in halter classes, our granddaughter, who shares our affection for these animals, has begun training and showing the llamas in performances classes.
 
Our breeding program over the last 20 years had focused on:
1) preserving/improving sound conformation;
2) improving the quality of fiber;
3) maintaining the sweet disposition of our animals as above all else, llamas, for us, are companion animals.
 
Now that we are retired and have moved the herd to Charlottesville Virginia, our numbers have dwindled, down to 19. While our show days are over, Ed continues watching over the health needs of our geriatric herd and I am discovering the
rewards of learning about fiber arts. With more time to observe herd behavior, I find the sociology of the herd to be fascinating and with time to observe and study their social interactions, I am anticipating writing a children’s book “Llessons Llearned from Llamas”.

When I was approached about jointing GALA’s BOD, I was honored and thrilled at the opportunity to share what I have learned over the years and to give to others as many generously shared their knowledge with us.

Audrey can be reached at: bohnengela@aol.com
 

Director
Charlotte Sankey - Contoocook, NH
My name is Charlotte Sankey and I live in Contoocook, New Hampshire.  My love affair with llamas started in the late nineties when I would see them on display at various fairs here in New England.  I obtained my first two llamas in 2000 at the urging of my granddaughter Heather who wanted to have a llama as her 4-H project.  It didn’t take much convincing for me to say “yes” to her request.  I now maintain a small herd of eight llamas which I love to show, and hike with. I also enjoy sharing them with the public whenever I can by taking them to parades and community events.  I have expand my love of llamas to include using their fiber for needle felting, wet felting and knitting.

I have been a GALA member for over 10 years and attended my first GALA Conference in 2012. It was such a wonderful experience that I took on the task as co-chair for the 2013 GALA Conference in Albany, NY. I have worked with 4-H youth in both the llama project and dairy goat project for over 35 years. I still maintain my connection with 4-H as a current 4-H Resource Leader assisting youth where ever I am needed.

It is an honor for me to be able to serve on the GALA Board and I will do my part to insure that GALA moves forward in a positive direction.

Charlotte can be reached at: lamanchanh@aol.com
 
Director
Josh Meador - Wirtz, Va.

Term Ending December 2017

For the past 15+ years I have been dedicated to llamas and this industry. Growing up next door to a llama farm, very often meant spending my free time helping with the farm chores and learning as much as I could about llamas. At the age of nine I attended my first llama show, the Virginia Classic. I instantly fell in love with showing. I have not missed a year in the show ring since!  In late 2008, I began working with Marian &  Andy Bragg (Freestate Llamas, Va.) and have since built an outstanding, show winning herd. Freestate shows on the National level, together we travel thousands of miles a year. I always complain about the long hours in the truck, but the thrill of the show ring is well worth it. When not in the show ring you are most likely to find me at some llama farm on the East Coast; be it, farm sitting, herd health, birthing cria, breeding season, shearing, or preparing for a show. I consider myself incredibly lucky to have found what I truly love to do at such a young age. In many instances, I have grown up in the llama industry. Though I may be young, I have plenty of experience and knowledge of raising llamas. Every aspect of the industry enthralls me. From breedings, births, buying, brokering, herd advisement, showing, shearing, all the way to simply enjoying the llamas. I would rather be in the barns or show ring, over a tropical island any day. I'm hooked!

After attending my first GALA conference in 2012, I've quickly realized the value of such an event and organization. I find offering a conference dedicated to the education and progression of this industry to be invaluable. Within the industry, llama organizations are dwindling but, the need for such groups is crucial. It is my hope to help bring the "show ring" side of this industry to the organization, as well as promoting llamas and helping to grow the GALA membership. I feel like I have my hand on the pulse of the industry and can bring a youthful energy and ideas to GALA.  I am proud and very excited to join this board, and more importantly I am thrilled to give my contribution to an organization and event that I personally value so much. 

Josh can be reached at: josh.meador01@gmail.com
 
Industry Liaison
Chuck Leach - New Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Chuck Leach

Chuck Leach, Jr. and wife Sonja (the llama lady) began raising llamas in 1989. Currently they have 88 llamas at their 106 acre farm in the beautiful hills of western Pennsylvania. Chuck was co-founder and first president of the Pennsylvania Llama and Alpaca Association (PLAA). 

Chuck can be reached at leach@llamalove.com  www.llamalove.com