4-H makes big impact on youngsters' lives

Madeline Roche • Updated Aug 18, 2017 at 1:01 AM

For many 4-Hers, fair week is more of a lifestyle than a hobby.

Some very involved students have started as early as kindergarten. One example is Norwalk resident Lillian White, a 12-year-old who is in her seventh year of the program. She is a member of the Busy Needles 4-H group and the daughter of Steve and Jami White.

Every year, Lillian White shows cows and usually takes on two other projects such as scrapbooking or sewing.


Moo Moo and Richard


The cows require the most time and work. 

It begins in January or March, when they are purchased. Daily activities include feeding them and removing manure. “You don’t want them to get dirty because they’re really hard to clean.”

“All year, we work with them and get them tamed and trained to show at the fair,” White added.

Move-in day at the fair is Sunday, which is when she brought her two cows there. Her family rents a camper to stay at the fairgrounds for the week, and she gets up at 4:30 or 5 a.m. to feed her cows, Moo Moo and Richard.

White said that even when she is walking around at the fair, she has to take breaks from hanging out with her friends to go check on her cows.

There were showings and awards on Monday and Tuesday. Moo Moo placed third in its weight class and Richard placed seventh.


Saying goodbye

Her cows will be auctioned Saturday. It’s an emotional time.

“I cry because I have to sell my cows because you get really attached to them, working with them throughout the year,” she said.

The cows typically sell for $1 to $4.30 per pound. 

Tiny, the cow White sold last year, won grand champion this year and she was happy to see it again.

During the part of the year she does not have cows, White is very involved in sports — cross country, basketball, track, softball and dance. She also said she enjoys spending time with her family, including her 13-year-old brother, Colton.

“My parents are very supportive. Both of them help me a lot. I couldn’t do it without them,” White said.

Her success in 4-H extends beyond Huron County.

At this year’s Ohio State Fair, White earned a clock award for her demonstration on how to set up a tea party. That means, out of the top 10 participants in her age group, she received the top award.


More than animals

Another heavily involved 4-Her is Livy Cunningham from Ashland County. Her grandma, Kris Simpson, is in charge of the Family Consumer Science (FCS) Building, so Cunningham helps a lot.

Cunningham, who has been doing 4-H since kindergarten, is in the Flashes 4-H club. She goes to 4-H camp each summer, and enjoys taking on scrapbooking and cooking projects.

This year, her scrapbooking project was made about her trip to Universal Studios in Orlando, Fla. She said she likes to start on her projects early and already knows that next year her project will be on quick breads, since her favorite projects are the cooking ones.

“4-H is a big part of my life,” Cunningham said. “I tend to come (to the fair) every day of the week, every year. I enjoy seeing the work of others and making friends.”

While she doesn’t have animals, she helps her friends with feeding and cleaning theirs at the fair.

Her fair week schedule usually includes staying at her grandma’s, getting up at 6 a.m. to pack a bag of extra clothes and necessities for the day and getting to the fair early. When she gets to the fair, she assists with set up, interviews and animal maintenance for her friends.

“I like 4-H more than any other program I can think of. I like walking around with my friends and being here (at the fair) helping,” Cunningham said. 


Bittersweet parting

A third 4-H member is Tieler Crouse, a 2017 Norwalk High School graduate who is enjoying her last year in the program as a Junior Fair Board Member. She has been involved in 4-H since fourth grade and although she was previously in the Clovers and Company club, she is now in Classy Clovers, a club that started this year.

Crouse has done camp couseling for four years and has been on the fair board for three. Her tasks for this year included helping with Cloverbud interviews (4-Hers in kindergarten through second grade) and setting up and cleaning the FCS building. 

She said she feels bittersweet about this being her last year of 4-H because she has become so close with fellow members.

“I’m really gonna miss that time we have together. I know that everyone is going to do big things, but we’re just a bunch of best friends and it’s hard to say goodbye to that. I’m excited to move on but sad to see it,” Crouse said, adding that her fellow 4-Hers feel like family and that they even spend some holidays together. 

She said 4-H has impacted her life by helping her to have more confidence by doing demonstrations and learning public speaking, to learn team work and friendship and “a lot about bread” since Crouse chose to do bread projects for four years.

4-H also influenced Crouse’s career choice. Working with young ones in 4-H helped her to realize she has a passion for it, so she will major in education at Ashland University, beginning this fall.