It’s late July; temperatures are averaging in the mid- to upper-90s nearly every day – that can only mean one thing: it’s county fair time!
Noah proudly displaying her trophy after being named the county's champion swine showman. As a former 12-year 4-Her, county fairs and 4-H will always have a special place in my heart. From learning the proper way to fit a heifer and to show a market hog to baking cinnamon rolls and more, 4-H taught me many a valuable lesson over the years. Lessons that I didn’t learned in the classroom. Lessons that more of today’s youth should learn.
While my 4-H days are long past and we’ll have another eight before our daughter is able to begin a 4-H career, I am blessed to have several nieces and nephews who are just starting out as junior members. And last week, I attended my first county fair in more than a decade to watch my niece Noah and nephew Tucker proudly showcase their projects.
Looking back on the week, while I am sure Noah and Tucker learned more than me, I walked away from the Ellsworth County fair reminded of a few of the important lessons I learned as a Circle B 4-H member in Doniphan County.
Hard work – it pays off: Noah is a competitor. She’s brave. She’s smart beyond her years. But she’s also a worker. Last Thursday morning, I headed down to the fairgrounds to watch her show her pigs. I got there just as the senior showmen were taking to the ring. Noah, along with a fellow junior showman Weston, watched intently, asking questions about why the seniors did certain things. They soaked it up through the senior class and half of the intermediates before heading back to get their pigs ready to go.
Then it was their turn. Noah and Weston entered the ring and turned it on. They applied what they saw from the older showmen and what they’d been taught throughout the summer as they worked with their pigs. With an eye on the judge and continuous driving of their animals, Noah and Weston took first and second in the junior class, respectively, and exited the ring as the judge noted “these juniors could compete with older showmen…”
And compete they did! During the championship drive, the judge complimented all of the 4-H members for their efforts, but he selected the two youngsters as his overall champion and reserve champion.
Tucker is a cloverbud, meaning he is still too young to be a full 4-Her. He was able to show a bucket calf this year though. Winning is fun – there’s no doubt about it. But the outcome of showmanship was the direct result of a strong work ethic of two young 4-Hers. Noah and Weston worked hard with their pigs, applied what they learned from others, and were successful.