Lilly White

LILLY WHITE, 15, stands with one of her dairy show animals. She is new to farming and is showing dairy cattle for the first time this year. Lilly was recently adopted by Hubert and Donna Yarborough, dairy farmers of Kentwood, Louisiana. Photo by Johnny Morgan/LSU AgCenter

Covington, La. — Many young people involved in livestock shows in Louisiana have grown up around animals. But one 4-H’er who has no history of being around animals is now succeeding in the world of livestock shows.

Lilly White, 15, has lived a stressful childhood, having been abandoned by her mother when she was 6 years old. She attended 10 schools before high school.

White says her home life was so difficult that she asked the Hubert Yarborough family in Tangipahoa Parish to adopt her. 

The Yarboroughs have been in the dairy business for more than 100 years and have a history of showing dairy animals that goes back about 15 years when their son was in school.

Hubert and Donna Yarborough said they had always wanted a daughter. Because they didn’t have one, they say Lilly is a “godsend.” 

The Yarborough farm is near Kentwood, where Hubert Yarborough and his sisters grew up. He now milks 74 cows on the 200-acre dairy.

When discussing Lilly’s work ethic, Hubert Yarborough said he has no problem helping people that want to help themselves.

“Lilly is a worker. She didn’t have any dairy experience when she came to us less than a year ago, but you couldn’t tell that now,” he said.

Lilly grew up in a rural area near Rayville, so she’s not totally lost in the country, she said.

“I grew up on a hunting farm,” she said. “We just had deer and other wild animals.” 

LSU AgCenter 4-H agent Megan Roberts said Lilly is different because some of the other students have a little bit of an advantage.

“Last week was the first time that she participated with livestock at our parish show, and now here she is at the district show,” Roberts said. “Overall, she’s just a good kid despite what she’s been through.”

Roberts said Lilly is in a good, stable environment now with the Yarboroughs, and she believes Lilly will be successful. 

So far, the setbacks in her life have not hurt her in the show ring. Lilly won first place with her heifer and third place with her cow at the Southeast District Livestock show in Covington. She is now headed to the statewide LSU AgCenter Livestock Show in Gonzales.

In addition to working on the dairy, Lilly said she already has a plan for her life once she finishes high school.

“I like working on the farm, but when I grow up, I want to be a welder in one of the plants,” she said.

In addition to a difficult family life, Lilly also is dyslexic.

“I never let it get me down, but it has been a challenge at times when I read and try to comprehend,” she said. “Sometimes I can understand better when someone reads to me because I see some words and numbers in reverse.”

In a strange twist of events, Lilly recently learned that she will have special guests at the state livestock show in Gonzales. Her birth mom plans to come and watch Lilly show her dairy animals.

“Even though I have not seen my mom but five or six times since I was six years old, she is still my mom and I love her,” Lilly said. 

Hubert and Donna Yarborough had Lilly invite her mom to come to visit and see where she is living and how happy and well she was doing. So on Jan. 18, Lilly’s mom came and spent the day with her.

“Lilly’s mom told us she would love to come see her again, and we would like to see her have a relationship with her mother, and we don’t have a problem with that,” Donna Yarborough said.

Lilly has invited her mom to come to the state show in Gonzales, and she told Lilly she would be there to see her show. Her sister whom she has not seen in two years also plans to be there.

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