by LINDA FRABL | photos by Soul of Photography

Fearless & Capable

student_sugarman2Sissy Sugarman is a 15-year-old animal breeder whose Olivenhain family farm is the perfect setting for raising endangered livestock breeds and practicing sustainability. The home-schooled aspiring veterinarian takes supplemental classes through Halstrom Academy and Dehesa Charter School, and she revealed, “Our family farm is like a living classroom. Every day it teaches me something new about the world.”

Sissy first became interested in animal breeding at age 10 when her mom bought her two Oberhasli dairy goats, which are an endangered breed from Switzerland. Sissy admitted, “Over the years, I have worked to improve their genetics through careful breeding.” Sissy has also bred Baby Doll Southdown sheep and helped raise such unique endangered breeds as Sebastopol geese, American Heritage turkeys, and even a miniature donkey. This is in addition to her family’s animal menagerie that includes llamas, horses, chickens, cats, ducks, dogs, five working beehives, and even a potbellied pig.


Name: Sissy Sugarman (15)
School: Home-schooled
Grade: 10
Parents: Elizabeth and Shawn Sugarman
Sibling: Samuel (18)
Favorite Spots in 92024: Little Oak Horse Park on Lone Jack Rd., The Olivenhain Meeting Hall, Olivenhain


student_sugarman4The latest breeding project Sissy has embarked on is a new breed of rabbit called the Velveteen Lop, an animal she fell in love with after seeing it at the American Rabbit Breeder’s Association convention. Sissy exclaimed, “They were bred to look like the velveteen rabbit from the beloved children’s book. I bought a breeding pair and have been breeding, improving, and promoting these rabbits ever since.”

A member of the Livestock Conservancy, Sissy enjoys promoting all of her endangered breeds of animals. She has given free tours of her family farm to various youth and scouts groups, and she shows her animals at the San Diego County Fair. She also volunteers at the local horse rescue, Saving Horses, Inc., and competes in such horse events as stadium and cross country jumping. In addition, Sissy is the president and a teen leader at the Olivenhain Valley 4-H Club, and even received the Congressional Bronze Medal from Congressman Darrell Issa for performing over 100 hours of community service.

“Our family farm is like a living classroom. Every day it teaches me something new about the world.”

In the future, Sissy hopes to get a degree in animal science and attend veterinary school. Ultimately, her goal is to open her own practice where she’d specialize in treating livestock, horses, and rabbits. Grateful for her farm upbringing, Sissy proclaimed, “I really appreciate the freedom to learn and grow up in this environment because it’s made me fearless and capable. There is never a dull moment!”

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