Whether it's a family tradition or a new opportunity, 4-H benefits youth now and for the future
ST. CHARLES, Ill. – In July, 4-H and community members celebrated the culmination of the whole 4-H year with 4-H exhibitions at the Kane County Fair.
“For months, these 4-H members work to learn and grow in the project areas they choose, and then they demonstrate knowledge and skills with 4-H exhibits and animal shows,” said Doris Braddock, 4-H Youth Development Program Coordinator. “The 4-H shows and conference judging experiences provide 4-H youth with valuable presentation opportunities and helpful feedback to continue developing skills into the next year.”
This year’s 4-H exhibitions returned to the Kane County Fair, following the 2020 virtual show, which took place with online entries. For second year 4-H’er Connor Lind, this was his first in-person 4-H conference judging and animal show experience.
“I love taking care of my animals, and I loved being at the fair all week with my friends and making new friends,” said Connor, who showed several projects including poultry, aerospace, and natural resources. “In 4-H, you can create things, make projects, take care of animals, show your animals, take classes, and learn new skills. I’ve also learned to work hard and manage my time wisely.”
Connor marks the fourth generation of 4-H members in his family, and they all came to cheer him on at the fair – his great grandfather Jerry Webb, his grandmother Pam Ferrell, his aunt Amie Ferrell, and his mom Lindsey.
Jerry said he enjoyed his time in 4-H and fondly remembers his sheep and grain projects. Lindsey remembers learning about 4-H from Jerry and showing chickens with her sister as members of the Hampshire Junior Farmers 4-H Club, which is the same club Connor is part of.
“I remember all the time I got to spend with friends and family,” she said. “I also remember creating projects that I was proud of, that pushed me out of my comfort zone, and taught me a lot about myself.”
She hopes the same for her three children, of which Connor is the oldest. “I am forever grateful to my grandparents for introducing me to 4-H and supporting me and my children who will hopefully continue the legacy. As a parent, I want nothing more than to raise hard working, compassionate, confident, independent people, and 4-H provides just that.”
Whether 4-H is a family tradition, as with the Linds, or a family is new to the program, 4-H strives to provide a sense of belonging, and to promote independence and generosity, said Braddock.
In 4-H, youth can explore dozens of projects in seven areas of study – animal science, career & leadership development, creative arts, environmental sciences, global civic engagement, healthy living & nutrition, and STEM. Through projects and club activities, they also learn about decision making, time management, communicating, and working independently and with a team.
“Through 4-H, I have gained invaluable experience when it comes to leadership and public speaking,” said Andrew Haviland, an 11-year member of Kane County 4-H, who is headed to college this fall. “I will be better able to communicate with others and will be much more prepared for the real world, especially when it comes to sharing ideas and helping to better my community.”
In addition to 4-H projects, 4-H members meet with their clubs and volunteer for their communities throughout the year. In turn, at the annual 4-H shows, scores of adult community members give back to 4-H by sharing their time and expertise, and by sponsoring awards.
2021 Kane 4-H show award sponsors include: A Bit More 4-H Club; Allergies, Aches & Pains Chiropractic & Acupuncture Center; Belvidere Mutual Insurance Co.; Bev Popp; Blain's Farm & Fleet of Elgin; Buck Bros., Inc.; C & C Mulch & More; Carson Farm; Cecilia Ochs; Country Cousins Unit of KCAHCE; Dan & Anne Carson; Don & Chris Fidler; Dorn Group, Inc.; Engel Cattle Farms; Eva Ochs; Fidler Farms-Ron & Deanna Fidler; Fox Valley Veterinary Clinic, North Aurora; Gerry & Kelli Dedina; got robot? FTC 5037 First Robotics Team; Greg & Vickie Goodrich; Haviland Family Honey Farm; Huckleberry's Pet Parlor; In Memory of Delbert Klussendorf; In Memory of James Nass; In Memory of Jody Borger; In Memory of Nellie Ramm; In Memory of Ray Russell; Izaak Walton League America-Elgin Chapter; J & R Feeds, Ltd.; Jim & Helen Feuerborn; Jim & Helen Feuerborn; Feuerborn's Honey Farm; Jim Konen Memorial; Joe & Lara Fidler; Johnson Family Farm; Judy Konen Hysell; Kane County 4-H Ambassadors; Kane County 4-H Foundation; Kane County Farm Bureau; Kim Braddock; Kriegels' Show Team; Lenkaitis Holsteins; Long Farms - John & Nan Long; Maria Ochs; Michele Horton, DDS; Midwest Award Corporation; Michael & Michelle Ochs & Family; Nancy Haire; Nellie Ramm Memorial; Paul & Doris Braddock; Peters Electric; Peter's Electric; Plato Center KCAHCE; Raisanen Painting; Ramm Farms, Inc.; Rempe-Sharpe & Associates, Inc.; Stohlquist Show Pigs; Straub Farms; The Write Stuff; the Challengers 4-H Club; the Charles Coffey Family; the Holmer Family; the Horwitz Family; and Todd & Karen Sunderlage.
“We want to whole-heartedly thank the Kane County Fair Association, and the Kane County 4-H show award sponsors, superintendents, judges, and other volunteers for giving our youth such an important experience, especially after a challenging year,” said Braddock. “Thank you also to our 4-H members and families for making many memories and another special year.”