4-H Llamas in Clackamas County

Although not as abundant as cattle, sheep, swine and goats, llamas are a livestock animal shown by 4-H Youth Development at county fairs in Oregon and across the United States. Llamas, along with alpacas – another domesticated member of the camelid family that is shown at county fairs – are classified as performance animals, along with dogs and horses.

Parker, a junior at Wilsonville High School, has been caring for and training with Fonzie for three of the five years he’s been in the Spring Creek Sproingers. He leases Fonzie from Joyce O’Halloran, the founding Spring Creek Sproingers club leader and owner of Joyful Llama Ranch in West Linn.


“A friend of mine got me interested in llamas,” said Parker, adding that he gets questions “on the daily” from his classmates who want to go with him to see Fonzie at the ranch. “Fonzie is the main attraction for me. He’s the reason why I do it.”

The Spring Creek Sproingers started showing llamas at the Clackamas County Fair in 1999. O’Halloran mostly draws 4-H club members from Portland and its suburbs. 

When Sid Lefranc was in the fifth grade they went with a friend to O’Halloran’s ranch. Lefranc “instantly fell in love” with the llamas. O’Halloran’s llama leasing program “allows the people who live in the suburbs like me, or in the city, to get a taste of farm life or connect with animals that they normally wouldn’t be able to,” Lefranc said.

“Hardly any of my kids live on farms,” said O’Halloran, a retired mathematics professor at Portland State University. “They just love the llamas. They love building the trust. They feel like they have an animal friend.”

Sarah Geisler, the llama and alpaca superintendent at the Clackamas County Fair, said O’Halloran is “giving these urban and suburban kids experience with llama husbandry.”

“They get to be there when the llamas are born, they get to raise and train them,” she said. “The kids do a lot of their own work, so it’s a pretty independent club.”

Llamas and alpacas, both native to South America, have been steadily growing in popularity among 4-Hers across the state, Geisler said. There are clubs launching in Marion and Lane counties, Geisler said. In central Oregon, alpacas were shown for the first time this year at the Crook County Fair in Prineville.