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It’s Fair Time!

orangeout at fair

This week is the Clay County Fair! We hope you will come out to view the 4-H and Open Class exhibits, 4-H/FFA youth showing their animals, family fun night, 4-H Council Bar-B-Q, cattle sorting, mutton busting, Amanda Winter concert, mud drags, and much more! I absolutely love our fair for the focus on youth and families! I also enjoy watching the fairgrounds come alive with excitement from youth and families as they bring their projects and show them. It’s such a blessing to work with wonderful people who desire what’s best for the youth! A full schedule of events can be found at http://clay.unl.edu. See you at the fair!  (photo is of those wearing “orange out” t-shirts the last day of the fair in 2014-Photo courtesy of Tory Duncan, Clay County News).

Determining Your Needs

In the Clay County Fair Open Class flyer printed in the Clay County News, you will find the middle page pulls out and is a survey. Nebraska Extension in Clay County and our Clay County Extension Board have launched a survey to determine programming/information needs you deem critical to you and your families. We know that we provide crop, 4-H, and some horticulture programming and information, but there is much more that Nebraska Extension as a whole provides that we haven’t necessarily offered as much as we could in Clay County.

The survey is meant for those of you in Clay County, if you’d be willing to take less than 5 minutes to fill it out, we’d greatly appreciate it! You can also fill it out online at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/clayext. The survey will remain open till the conclusion of the Clay County Fair on July 12 this year. Please pass this information along to Clay County constituents as we’re trying to reach as many people as possible. It really is important that we receive as much feedback as possible. It’s important as the goal is to better serve you-and we can’t do that without your input! Please do take a few minutes and complete this for us as we’ve only had a handful complete it thus far. Thank you and please encourage others to complete it as well!

County Fair Time!

This year marked my 10th Clay County Fair.  It was bitter-sweet in a way as I have watched this group of youth from their pre-4-H Clay County Extension Office shows our Patriotic spirit!  Jenny, Deanna, Rachel, Holli, Cindyyears through graduation this year.  It’s neat seeing the young men and women they’ve become, ready to take that next step in life towards college and careers!  Rachel and Kristen, our interns, helped us greatly in different ways which was a blessing; it was another smooth fair overall!

Also bittersweet is the fact that this was Cindy Strasheim’s last Clay County Fair as a UNL Extension Educator as she plans to retire in December.  We will miss her and if you see her around, please thank her for her 29 years of dedication to the Clay County Fair and serving our constituents here!

I realize I say this every year, but we wouldn’t have fair if it wasn’t for all of our 4-H and FFA leaders, families, and youth-so thank you all for your hard work and efforts with your projects and the many ways you volunteer at fair!  Thank you to our awesome fair board who we greatly enjoy working with and who keeYouth showing meat goats; judge appreciated the quality of their meat goats.p our fairgrounds looking great!  Thank you to Deanna, Holli, and Cindy for the long Greatly enjoy working with these guys and all our Fair Board members! hours of preparation and also during fair in ensuring everything ran smoothly!  Thank you to our 4-H Council and all our Superintendents for working so hard in various capacities during fair and throughout the year!  Thank you to Tory, Kris, Teri, Karla, and Megan with the Clay County News for sticking out all the shows in the heat to cover the fair for us; we truly appreciate your support!  Thank you to Lonnie Stripe for auctioneering, all our auction buyers, plaque and award sponsors, and donors for supporting our 4-H and FFA youth!  Thank you to everyone who made the 2013 Clay County Fair a success!

Dusk at the end of entry night of fair.

Blurry pic but youth competing in Beef Team Fitting Contest.  So cool how youth from different clubs throughout the County are brought together to work together on teams!

Adorable kitchen set made from recycling a tv stand by a 4-Her!  Would love to make something like this sometime!

Roasting marshmallows for smores at Family Fun Night :)Family Fun Night at the Fair-beautiful evening and lots of activities for kids of all ages!

County Fair-Special Time of Year

Fair time is a special time of year. It’s the one time in the year where people from all parts of the county come together for the youth. Yes, there’s healthy competition involved, but 4-H and FFA are building life skills in our youth. Families congratulate each other and are excited for a youth’s job well done. It’s the one time in the year where people from all parts of the county come together for the youth.  

It’s always fun for me to watch the fairgrounds come alive Wednesday night as youth bring in their static exhibits and livestock entries. People are smiling and most youth-particularly the younger exhibitors-are excited. Many people, including me, checked the weather forecast throughout the fair in hopes of rain. This is the first fair in a long time that it didn’t rain Wednesday night or anytime during the fair. Thursday is a busy day with exhibits being judged, livestock being weighed in and the beginning of livestock shows. Something I always enjoy is family fun night on Thursday night. Clouds appeared and families enjoyed kiddie games, shelling popcorn, an obstacle course, and roasting hot dogs and marshmallows. Friday and Saturday continued with the remaining livestock shows and plenty of heat. Sunday brought a fun beef-fitting contest where youth of various ages and clubs worked together. It also brought smiles watching the young children tell their stories and show animals in the Rainbow Classic, watching all our top showmen compete in the Round Robin Showmanship Contest, and wonderful support from all our buyers at the Livestock Auction; we’re thankful for your support.

While probably most people are hot and tired by fair’s conclusion Sunday evening, it’s always a little saddening to me to watch the fairgrounds become empty so quickly again. Deanna and Holli in our office spend a great deal of time preparing for it as do all the youth, parents, grandparents, and 4-H leaders; thank you for all you do and the time you all invest in our youth! Thank you to the Fairboard members who spend countless hours preparing the Fairgrounds and always take care of things during fair with a smile-no matter how often they have to plunge the toilets! Thank you to 4-H Council for your help on various committees, your work with the food stand and BBQ, and for all you do. Thank you to all our superintendents and to all our volunteers; without you our 4-H program and fair wouldn’t be possible. Thank you to Tory and the Clay Co. News for all your support and coverage of our fair. We have something so special in our county and I truly feel blessed to work in Clay County! We may not have big-time entertainment at the fair, but I love our fair. I love how the focus is on our 4-H and FFA youth and families; many other counties would love to have that. Our numbers and entries are similar to counties much larger than us and I appreciate the quality brought to the fair each year from our youth. Thank you to everyone for making the 2012 Clay County Fair a success! 

National 4-H Week and Reflections

Happy National 4-H Week!  Thank you to all the volunteers and supporters that make 4-H in our area counties and the State a success; we wouldn’t have the 4-H program without numerous volunteers such as many of you reading this!

A few weeks ago, I was attempting to explain not only Extension but 4-H to a group of people who didn’t understand either.  A survey found that nearly 96% of people recognize the name 4-H but only 35% recognize Extension.  That’s why at our County fair, I put up the large red flags to help people make the connection between Extension and 4-H.  I think many in our county are familiar that 4-H has to do something with the fair, but it’s so much more than that!  Essentially 4-H is a youth development program coordinated by land grant universities such as UNL through the Cooperative Extension System.  The National 4-H site at http://4h.org states that “4-H fosters an innovative, “learn by doing” approach with proven results.”  A study conducted by Tufts University found that youth involved with 4-H are nearly two times more likely to get better grades in school, are nearly two times more likely to go to college, 41% less likely to engage in risky behaviors, and 25% more likely to positively contribute to their families and communities.  

The 4-H pledge explains what the 4 H’s stand for including pledging our:
*Heads to clearer thinking
*Hearts to greater loyalty
*Hands to larger service
*Health to better living….for our clubs, communities, country, and world.

I remember reciting this pledge at every monthly meeting at a 4-Her.  I’m so thankful for the numerous volunteers-particularly the amount of time our club leader invested into the youth in our club-teaching us to sew and the importance of straight seems, cook the 4-H way, model sewn garments, importance of volunteering and community service, and teaching us parliamentary procedure by empowering us as youth to run and conduct meetings.  I’m thankful for volunteers who spent each week during the summer teaching me about weeds, trees, and horticulture ID….skills I use nearly every day of my Extension career and as a homeowner.  While we often worked on them last minute and weren’t thrilled about doing them, I’m thankful my mom required us to do 4-H presentations each year to develop public speaking skills.  I’m thankful my grandma taught me how to make homemade bread and rolls and that so many volunteers worked with me on my 4-H Jr. Leader projects to help me develop leadership skills.  I’m also thankful for the Extension staff at the office while I was growing up-they were always so friendly and helpful and modeled the way for me in my career today.

Thinking about my 4-H experiences reminds me that you are encouraged by the Nebraska 4-H Foundation to share your 4-H story!  Some have asked me what this means.  Essentially, any of us who have went through the 4-H program or volunteered with the 4-H program has a story to tell about how 4-H has benefited us or how we’ve seen the program benefit others.  It may be a funny story or a serious one.  The best part is that it’s YOUR story and the 4-H Foundation wants to hear them to help with promoting 4-H!  The deadline is November 30th and you can find more information at:  http://www.ne4hfoundation.org.  Thanks again to everyone involved with helping or supporting the 4-H program and to the 1 in every 3 Nebraska youth currently involved with the 4-H program! 

County Fair Reflections

A HUGE thank you to all the Fair Board members, 4-H Council, leaders, youth, parents, volunteers, Clay County News Staff, and Extension staff that made the 2011 Clay County Fair a success!  Words can’t really express my appreciation.  Driving home every night, I had time to reflect on each day so I decided (for all you farmers) I’d give you a break from irrigation scheduling : ) and provide some reflections from the county fair.
     I love watching the fairgrounds come alive…to see the barns and buildings filling up and the excitement of the youth and parents.  While it’s a lot of work, I really love fair week and I’ve always appreciated our county fair in Clay County.  I appreciate that the focus is on the youth and families-exactly where it should be; we truly have something special here!  There was several times in conversation a person this week would say “I haven’t been to the fair in X years” to which I’d respond “Welcome back!”.  For those of you reading this and can identify with that statement, I’d really encourage you to come out next year-because you truly are missing out on something special. 
     Every year different things stand out as I’m sure they do for the youth and parents as well.  This year, these are some of my reflections looking back: 
*Deanna and Holli working so hard to prepare before fair while Cindy and I continued programming right up to fair.  Everything was ready to go and we felt prepared for everything this year!
*The Fair Board Members working so hard before fair, deciding not to run me over before fair : ), and cheerfully picking up trash each morning and doing various tasks throughout fair.
*All the Superintendents, 4-H Council members, and Leaders pitching in wherever needed-how you all organized your volunteers to make the shows, exhibit judging, and the food stand run so smoothly.
*Kurt and Amy-the FFA Advisors from Sutton and Sandy Creek becoming so involved this year-it was great having them as a part of our team!
*The adults and youth who pitched in to clean out horse stalls Wednesday night before the fair.
*The beautiful day for the poultry/rabbit show outside and the youth excited to show their bucket calves and do their interviews on Thursday.
*The family fun night on Thursday night-I love seeing all the families come out and see what the 4-H clubs come up with each year!  Games, face painting, campfire, and all the work that went into pre-cutting the wheels and blocks to make small vehicles out of wood-a really cool and fun night!
*Beautiful morning for the hog show and the horse shows running so smoothly.
*The sheep and meat goat judge working so well with the youth –frankly all our judges did a great job with this-it’s where the focus should be-but the sheep/meat goat judge was exceptional!
*The beef judge commenting the quality of our breeding beef can compete with any show anywhere; just watching our youth building their herds for the future with hopes of coming back-that is exciting!
*The awesome buyers at the livestock auction, the excellent job that Bruce McDowell did as always and that Lonnie Stripe did as well, and a smooth-running auction!
*The dedication of the Clay County News staff-especially Tory who endured all the shows in order to capture those special moments and feature stories!
*The way so many swine families stuck around at the end to clean up the swine/sheep barn and help me put things away this year so I didn’t have to do that myself.  I really appreciated that!
*There are many moments but for the sake of space, THANK YOU ALL for making the Clay Co. Fair a success!

Llama-4-H Experience

Saturday was a neat day at the Clay County Fairgrounds starting with the 5K and 10K runs in which I heard 65 people ran or walked in!  It was exciting to see the crowd that turned out to watch this first year event and hopefully it’s conducted again because it seemed like a success for the first year!  After the road race, it was our Regional 4-H Dairy Cow and Goat show.  That’s always an enjoyable show as it is laid back and fun-but it’s also a reminder that fair is just around the corner! 

Following the dairy show, we tried something new.  Some 4-H families adopted some rescue llamas so they were hoping to show them.  While livestock isn’t my strong suite, I know nothing about llamas so we opted for an exhibition this year.  A 4-H Club from Polk County generously came down and ran the exhibition for us. 

It was interesting watching showmanship as the youth held the halters high but not close to the llamas’ mouths and they never changed sides when the judge walked past.  Probably the most interesting part was watching the obstacle course.  Essentially it’s like a glorified trail’s course for horses, only more interesting!  Youth had to pick up a hula hoop and put it around his or herself then have the llama essentially walk through it.  The llama had to back between logs, walk over bridges, change pace, and in different spots it had to put two feet in a ring laying on the ground and the youth had to do things like show the judge the llama’s hooves or teeth!  Needless to say, it was very interesting and I think everyone watching learned a great deal!

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