On any given day, Gavin Ivey can romp with baby goats, chase lambs down a hill, pet a newborn calf or piglet, feed an alligator lunch and hold part of a 22-foot python.
The 17-year-old Severna Park High School junior is a member of the Kinder Farm Park 4-H Livestock Club which allows him to interact with a variety of livestock. He also is a part-time junior assistant at EcoAdventures, owned by Brady Barr, host of the National Geographic series “Dangerous Encounters with Brady Barr,” and his wife, Mei Len Sanchez-Barr.
This year, he’s helped raise a cross-bred Boer goat named Jerry, which he will show and then sell at the Anne Arundel County Fair in September.
The teen, who served as the 40-member club’s president for two years, cares for the other goats and helps feed and clean up after the farm’s livestock — sheep, cows, pigs and chickens. He also raises turkeys for the Thanksgiving season.
Gavin lives in Millersville, about two miles from the park.
“I was up here all the time as a kid,” he said. “I saw other kids working with the animals and got on a two-year wait list to get into the 4-H Club. It’s the only 4-H in the area because there are not a lot of farms around here. I can ride my bike over to feed the animals.”
He’s been a member for four years.
“Many of the kids look up to Gavin as a role model and leader as he displays the qualities 4-H strives for,” said Cari Green, 4-H Livestock Club adviser. “Gavin has been a true asset to our club and is currently working on implementing a sustainable food source for our livestock at Kinder Farm.”
The 4-H Club counts among its membership students from Chesapeake High, Old Mill High and Indian Creek Upper School, and only one from Severna Park High — Gavin.
“I don’t think people know the 4-H Club members, a kids-run club, maintain the livestock with oversight by rangers and adult helpers,” Gavin said. “This is a functioning farm. We raise the animals, show them the week of the county fair — Sept. 12 to 16 — and sell them.”
The Friends of Kinder Farm Park Livestock Committee cares for additional livestock on the farm year-round.
“I think of Gavin as a role model for teens,” said Roy Fielder, the Friends of Kinder Farm Park livestock coordinator. “He is respectful, polite, with a good attitude and a great moral compass. He is a kid you can trust and will shine in any situation.”
Gavin, a member of the National Honor Society, works summers and occasional weekends at EcoAdventures in Millersville at summer camp programs, birthday parties and open discovery days, and as a caregiver for more than 60 animals. There, in addition to the alligator and the python, EcoAdventures also has crocodiles and a variety of exotic reptiles.
With the Barr couple, he’s done a weeklong EcoAdventures Eco Trip to a plot in a Costa Rican rain forest owned by the Barrs. He slept in a platform tent when not exploring the area wildlife. Another Eco Trip took place in Florida, where he went kayaking and swam with the manatees.
During the school year, he is a member of the Severna Park High cross country and track and field teams.
At his family’s church, Woods Presbyterian, he is a small group leader for Woods Work. Each summer, Woods Work partners with Habitat for Humanity on a weeklong project. This summer, they will be going to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to help build three new houses.
“Gavin is a conscientious person who takes his responsibilities seriously,” said Woods member Vic Marone. “When he commits to do something you can count on it being done.”
Marone said Gavin has been a leader on the Youth Committee which plans and organizes the mission trips that include 130 youth and 44 adults. “He is an extremely mature individual for his age which has earned him the respect of his peers.”
Gavin’s mother, Tennessee native Laura Ivey, works for Edison Research Company. Texan Kurt Ivey, his father, is employed by Macerich, the owner, operator and developer of Tysons Corner Center in Virginia. He has two brothers: Nick, 15, a Severna Park High freshman; and Keith, 10, a Shipley’s Choice Elementary fourth-grader.
Though he is nearly a year away from finalizing his college choice, Gavin and his parents are already visiting prospective colleges. Planning to major in agriculture or go on a pre-veterinarian track, he hopes to attend a big school in the south as his parents did.
In his spare time, he likes getting out on the water. “I enjoy the waters around here and the Severn River. I like getting out there to fish or just hang out.”
Anyone may nominate a Teen of the Week. Send nominations by email to Wendi Winters at firstname.lastname@example.org.