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July 10, 2014

MORE THAN THE ANIMALS: Floyd County 4-H offers many programs to youth

NEW ALBANY — Panda was receiving the royal treatment Wednesday afternoon at the Floyd County 4-H Fairgrounds. His black coat was receiving a little touchup of spray paint, he was being brushed and immaculately groomed. He was getting ready for his coming-out party.

Or his going away party.

Panda will be sold to market Saturday, the final day of the fair. The black Angus Cross has been pampered all year by 13-year-old Gracie Hale for the 4-H show contest Wednesday. Then the Hale family will have to part with Panda.

“That first year it was really tough,” said Kristal Hale, Gracie’s mother, on selling the family’s show heifer or steer each year. “After you do it a few years, it’s a lot easier. But they are like pets.”

The Hales have around eight head of cattle, and not all are shown at 4-H. Kristal said her family paid $900 for Panda, and they hope to make a little money off of him at Friday’s 4-H auction or Saturday when the fair wraps up. It’s all part of being involved in the Floyd County 4-H.

But showing livestock is just a small part of the program. Of the 72 4-H projects, only seven deal with animals.

“It’s so much more,” said Melissa Meridia, Floyd County 4-H Educator at the Purdue Extension Office. “This [fair week] is a celebration of what the kids do year round.”

There are 192 youth involved in the Floyd County 4-H and 81 in the mini-4-H, and most have nothing to do with animals.

Louis Ries, 17, a senior at New Albany High School, is a member of the 4-H Shamrock Club. He has earned cooking honors for preparing a microwave cherry pie. This is his ninth year in 4-H.

“I rode my bike around, saw the fair was happening every year so I decided to join,” he said. “You get to meet a lot of people and I really like it.”

The Shamrock Club meets once a month in Newlin Hall.

Meridia said many of the clubs meet monthly, but kids who join can be involved as much, or as little as they wish.

The Junior Leaders have also been busy this week. Members are in grades 7-12 and help set up displays and do other jobs at the fairgrounds during fair week. They also man a booth all week.

“I am very pleased with the job the kids have done this year,” said Meridia, who has been involved in 4-H since she was 9 years old. This is her fifth year as the 4-H educator.

“With the shorter summer the kids don’t have as much time to finish their projects by July so it’s a challenge for them.”

She said there is much more diversity in the 4-H program at the local, state and national levels and she is happy with where the Floyd County group has grown.

“We have made huge strides in the past four years.”

TJ Royal joined the Floyd County 4-H after moving here from Houston two years ago. While his sister Corinne, who is also involved, was showing off her horse this week, TJ will perform a robotics demonstration Saturday.

“I really like the tech stuff,” said the 15-year-old Floyd Central student. “The kids and adults really try to help you here if you need help. Where I came from, you were expected to know it.”

Kristal Hale said all of the programs in 4-H teach valuable life lessons.

“It teaches them responsibility and there is a social aspect of it,” she said. “It’s like a big family down here. They can learn a lot from it.”

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WANT TO JOIN

• Interested in joining the Floyd County 4-H? If so call 812-948-5470 or go to extension.purdue.edu

 

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