Buckeye Valley’s Fields helps rescue others
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Abbey Fields affinity for animals began at a very young age. It was when she was in elementary school that she began coming home with snakes in her pockets — which her mother would later find in the washer.
Her mother was also known to have to deal with an occasional toad in the house, also courtesy of Abbey.
It was after the family moved to Buckeye Valley from the city of Delaware that Abbey began to have larger animals. Today she has two pot belly pigs, eight hens, three roosters, three dogs, two cats and a frog, which Abbey said doesn’t really count as she has only had the tiny tree frog for a month now.
The two pot belly pigs were both rescues, one from a breeding farm and the other rescued just minutes before it was to be put down.
Nemo, named for a deformed hoof similar to Nemo of animated movie fame’s deformed fin, is the younger pig that is around 2 years old; the other one is six to eight years.
The pigs are smarter than dogs, Abbey said, noting Nemo can sit and do tricks. With her interest in animals, it is no surprise that 4-H has been a large part of Abbey’s life. She has shown projects annually at the fair and worked both as a member of the junior fair board and as a camp counselor.
She showed rabbits her entire life except for the last three years. This year she showed chickens and last year one of the pot belly pigs.
“I will really miss it. It was, and still is, a big part of my life,” she said of the youth program.
Her love of animals has translated into her goal of doing animal assistance therapy at her own farm. She plans to become a special education teacher and is currently looking at Eastern Michigan University, Bowling Green State University and Union University in Kentucky.
Besides her experience with animals, Abbey has also worked as a camp counselor at Recreation Unlimited, working with kids in crafts, swimming, basketball and teaching skills.
Heather Halsey is Abbey’s soccer coach and has known her for three years.
“I have watched her grow into a remarkable young woman,” Halsey said. The coach said Abbey led the team in a positive way and always “had this presence about herself that made her stand out; she knew if a situation needed sensitivity or humor and she broke the ice. She is always willing to listen to her teammates when they needed someone and she was the one who always made sure that everyone was having fun.”
Halsey said Abbey has a way of making everyone feel better about themselves, such as when Abbey helped someone else who was being bullied.
“I got to watch this whole process happen,” Halsey said. “I saw the many sides of Abbey and realized that there were so many remarkable things about her … that she was someone that people should strive to emulate. She is all about kindness, acceptance, friendship and positivity. I wish that I could meet more teenagers that understood how important it is to accept one another and be kind to each other. I admire that she strives to spread that word to everyone around her. I feel like even though she is a teenager and I am an adult, I have learned so much from her actions and the way that she treats people.”
Abbey began the TGIF (Thank Goodness I am Female) program in the community after attending an international youth conference. TGIF is for sixth grade girls and teaches them how to deal with aggression and to form positive relationships.
“I was bullied and sexually harassed in the third grade,” Abbey said of her reasons for beginning the program. Since the program’s inception, she has helped to add GAL (Girl Action League) for seventh grade girls. Abbey works with the programs during her lunch periods and has also spoken at other functions as well, including at a memorial service for a Delaware teen who was bullied and committed suicide.
Diane Williams, an intervention specialist at the high school, said Abbey “is a very energetic and positive individual, who treats everyone with friendliness and tolerance. She has an open heart to students who struggle or are challenged in various ways. She is compassionate in her experience working with disabled children. She has demonstrated sound leadership in the development of her anti-bullying program for young girls at the middle school, and now in the elementary grades.”
Besides her other activities, Abbey is also in marching and pep bands and has played travel soccer since she was 4. Several colleges are currently looking to recruit her to play the sport for them.
Taking numerous courses, including senior English, government, college prep classes and FFA communication, Abbey said there is much to look forward to during her last year of high school.
But at the same time, there is a sense of impending change on the horizon, she said.
“It’s scary. My best friend and I are going in separate directions,’ she said, adding that the last night on the field for band will be sad because “that’s where I made my best friends.”
Abbey’s advice to underclassmen is, “Just be yourself, make the best of it.”
Abbey is the daughter of David and Beckie Fields of Radnor.