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Every day a Wapakoneta High School sophomore treks to his grandparents’ farmhouse to help tend to the animals and work the crops.
The daily task also is shaping his future plans of being a veterinarian specializing in large animals.
Gavin Hawk, who is a member of Wapakoneta High School’s FFA program, says he loves helping his grandparents Evelyn and Marvin Kohler. He often makes two trips each day to make sure animals have water and feed — once in the morning and once at night.
The Kohler have short-horn cattle and every once in a while a Brown Swiss, sheep and at times goats. He shows the animals at the Auglaize County Fair, which this year is scheduled for July 29 through Aug. 4.
The Kohlers also grow the area staples of wheat, corn and soybeans.
“I like farming because it is a way of life and if there was no farming then we couldn’t live,” Gavin said. “I like understanding how the crops grow under all the different conditions.”
He is seeing first hand how the crops are doing with temperatures above normal with little to no rain for weeks. He has watched corn stalks start to shrivel and there is a danger the plants have tasseled without the plant kernels reaching maturity.
During the past month, Gavin has taken extra precautions with the farm animals. Since the storm hit on June 29, a large tree in the orchard where the sheep graze fell so he and his grandfather built a structure to provide them with shade.
“I really like to help raise the animals because it is really cool to see them mature and as they move through the different stages of life,” Gavin said. “I am more attracted to raising the animals because I want to be a vet when I get done with college. I think raising the animals now will help me when I work on earning my degree and after I have my degree to be a veterinarian.”
As a member of the FFA, Gavin also takes shop projects to the fair.
Gavin, 15, currently is balancing time on the farm with time on the diamond. He is a member of the Wapakoneta Redskins Junior ACME team and played this past spring with the freshman team under Matt Henderson.
The son of Alberta and Mike Hawk played baseball for years with his brother, Don, on teams at Veterans Memorial Park on teams organized by Wapakoneta Recreation Inc. He also plays Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) basketball for his church. The Hawks attend St. Joseph Catholic Church.
His brother, Don, 15, and his younger brother, Justin, 13, can often be seen cheering on their brother at baseball games.
“I like playing baseball because I love the sport and I am super competitive so it gives me something to do,” said Gavin, who plays catcher on the team. “I like catching so much because you get to be involved in pretty much every play.”
At school, Gavin said his favorite subjects are math and science, mainly because they can be linked to his desired profession. His favorite teacher so far has been Jeremy Dickey, who teaches social studies.
Yet the most important lesson he has learned, he was taught by his parents.
“They tell me ‘To always be yourself’ and to not let people change you,” Gavin said. “I try to do that.”