Talents on display at 4-H Showcase
By Stephanie Taylor Ferriell, Senior Staff Writer, [email protected]
Crawford County 4-H members had an opportunity many of their counterparts throughout the state and nation did not in this era of COVID-19. While many Extension services opted for virtual-only events, Crawford County was able to host its second 4-H Showcase with most events taking place in person Friday and Saturday in Leavenworth.
Nearly every person involved in any aspect of the two-day event was wearing a mask, a key component of the safety plan.
County Extension director Gail Peitzmeier said organizers were required to follow state mandates and to file a plan with the county health department and Purdue University outlining how events would be handled.
“We’re very, very happy with how everything went and with people’s compliance,” she said.
Peitzmeier said each county made an individual decision regarding how to handle 4-H exhibits this year.
“You have to know your county. We’re an in-person county,” she said, adding she wanted to host live events if at all possible.
4-H members are guided by a pledge outlining the four H’s: head, heart, hands and health. It says, in part: “I pledge my health to better living for my club, my community, my country and my world.”
“Sometimes you have to put that into action,” said Peitzmeier, citing the facial masks as an example. “They’re all wearing masks. Nobody wants to, I get it, but it’s instilled in the pledge.”
With lives disrupted in major ways since mid-March, Peitzmeier was committed to providing a semblance of normalcy through the Showcase if at all possible.
While coronavirus did have an adverse effect with in-person meetings, events canceled and with fewer projects submitted, Peitzmeier was pleased with the overall outcome. There are currently about 75 4-H members in the county.
“I’m thrilled with this much,” she said, looking around the project room in the Leavenworth Community Center filled with a variety of projects. “The kids are excited and always so proud when they deliver their projects, and with good reason.”
While the live 2020 Indiana State Fair has been canceled, Peitzmeier said selected projects will compete on the state level in a virtual event.
Katie Colglazier’s projects in home environment and tie dye were among those on display. A 10-year 4-H member, Colglazier was also among those competing in the livestock show Saturday morning at Old Lock and Dam No. 44.
While many of her friends participated in athletics, “I never really got into sports,” she said. “I’ve always loved animals.”
Raising animals to show became something that’s “mine and only mine,” Colglazier added.
Developing those projects instilled values such as dedication, hard work and responsibility, traits that 4-H members will carry with them into adulthood, say parents.
“When other kids were just getting up and getting ready for school, she was already down at the barn feeding,” said Sarah Colglazier, Katie’s mom.
Troy Mason, whose stepson Thomas, 13, earned numerous awards Saturday, agrees.
“It teaches responsibility, critical thinking, communication, especially in the show ring,” Mason said. “You couldn’t ask for a better thing for your kid to get into than livestock.”
Mason said Thomas gets up at 7 each morning to feed his sheep and lambs, exercises and grooms them and then feeds them again at night.
Thomas said he joined mini 4-H when he was in kindergarten and loves the program.
“It’s fun to get out and do stuff. I love working with animals,” he said, noting sheep are his favorite. “They’re extraordinary and unique. It’s fun to show them.”
Amber Morris, 13, had several livestock projects this year, including lambs, rabbits and cattle. She joined 4-H five years ago after watching a livestock show and thinking it looked like fun.
“For me, it’s just really fun,” she said, adding she’s enjoyed learning much more about animals through her projects.
A 2020 Crawford County High School graduate, Colglazier is headed to Indiana University, where she’ll study animal behavior, a choice she credits largely to her 4-H experience.
“It’s definitely taught me maturity and responsibility over the years,” she said. “I feel like it’s what’s shaped me. It’s part of what makes me who I am. I’m really thankful for that.”
Peitzmeier said while 4-H is sometimes still associated largely with an agricultural lifestyle, it is much broader.
“Yes, we were agricultural-based, founded in 1902,” she said, adding 4-H, however, has evolved and “today, we have something for every interest.”
Peitzmeier said the experiences children have through 4-H programs are life-enhancing, teach skills and help bolster confidence.
She shared the story of a young boy taking part in Friday evening’s horse and pony show. The show was hosted by Polly Mohr at her family’s farm, Wyandotte Morgan Horse Farm in Leavenworth.
“He was so excited, he couldn’t go to bed,” Peitzmeier recalled the boy’s grandmother telling her, noting the child couldn’t stop talking about the show and had to call numerous family members to tell them about it.
He was up again bright and early Saturday morning to participate in the livestock show.
“That’s why we do what we do,” said Peitzmeier. “It’s awesome.”
Enrollment for next year will open Oct. 1.
For more information about 4-H or to enroll a child, call the Extension office at 812-338-5466.