Three words that are in the Fine Fleece Shetland Sheep Association mission statement are "Preserve, Protect, and Promote. Let's break these down one at a time.
Preserve. Webster-Merriam describes it as: to keep safe from injury, loss or ruin.
In the case of our kindly fleece Shetlands, it would be to keep safe from loss or ruin. We certainly do not want to lose our 1927 Standard Shetlands. We do not want them be lost in the sea of atypical Shetlands in North America. There are several 'levels' of preservation I think we need to be aware of as breeder, but also as an association as well.
1. Obviously fleece is a big deal on Shetlands. Its the most controversial part about the sheep in the USA. We do not want to have kindly fleeced Shetlands become more rare than they are now. Strides have been made to make fine fleeced Shetlands available to each other now that there is a way to unify us across the country. The fleece is an important part of the Shetland history, especially as the kindly fleeced Shetland has always been rare, and the entire 1927 standard was created to protect and preserve this very special sheep.
2. patterns/markings/colors are also needed to be preserved. What good is a kindly Shetland if it only comes in black? or just white? we want to preserve all parts of the 1927 standard Shetland. This includes spots, patterns and modified colors. The standard does explicitly comment on all of them, as there are more than are in the standard, and a few rare patterns have shown up that we are now just realizing are in the breed. We as an association MUST make sure we do not lose the rare patterns or spots or modified colors in our quest for something else. Individuals can concentrate on certain colors or patterns, but we should all have room to keep at least ONE rare color/pattern in our flocks if are truly going to preserve this breed in its entirety.
3. Preservation of both polled sheep and horned sheep. This includes horned ewes, polled rams and horned rams. While some may be more popular, we must strive to preserve all varieties of horns/or lack of horns in all patterns and colors. Do we have polled light badgerface 1927 Standard Shetlands? Probably not. Do we have many polled gray rams? horned gulmoget rams or ewes? I personally don't think we are in a position yet here in North America where one flock can concentrate on say just polled blacks, when we need other patterns/colors also in polled. Or just breeding for horned katmogets. If we had 100 members that might be different, but were do we go for diversity later on, if we don't all keep a few extra to help preserve them?
what about the word protect?
from the same website (Webster-Merriam) Protect: to keep (someone or something) from being harmed, lost, etc.
Protect should be self explanatory. However my mind immediately goes to someone standing on their front porch with a shot gun waiting for a vagabond or coyote to stop for a lunch (or steal from the property), but that is not what i want to describe.
to help (something) happen, develop, or increase