Livestock, etc. showcased at 4-H Achievement Days
On the first morning of 4-H Achievement Days at the Pierce County Fair, display tables in the fair’s community center building filled up with potted plants, custom metalwork and baked goods.
A steady stream of young creators soon went to the tables, placing ribbons on their contest entries.
Sandra Scherr, administrative assistant at the Pierce County NDSU Extension Office, beamed with pride. “4-H members are bringing in the projects that they’ve worked on all year. They’re showing their projects to judges all around the room,” she said. “Pretty soon, you’ll see blue ribbons, red ribbons and purple ribbons – all the colors of the rainbow here.”
Scherr said the participants’ work was judged by category. Members ranged in age from five through 18. Five-year-olds participated in the Cloverbuds program for 4-H beginners.
Rugby High School student Thatcher Volk entered a piece of custom metal art in the contest for older members.
“At the school in the ag department, we have a plasma cutter table, so I was able to cut out this and I used it to burn out an American flag design on some corn hold boards,” Volk explained. “It’s crazy what you can do with a plasma cutter if you program it correctly,” Volk said. “It’s great.”
“We’ve got a little bit of everything here,” NDSU County Extension Agent Brenden Klebe said. “We’ve got cookies and we’ve got paintings and we have corn and wheat from the fields from either last year or this year, and that’s neat to see.”
Klebe and Scherr said 2021 was their first year organizing 4-H Achievement Days. The event began June 23 with static projects, then continued June 24 with pet and poultry judging before ending June 25 with a pig and calf competition.
Volunteers from area businesses served as judges for each category. Amber Feickert of Farm Credit Services sat at one table, listening to Cloverbuds describe their projects to her.
“Brooklyn, you did a really nice job,” Feickert told one contestant. “I hope you make more nature books because you took some nice pictures.”
Brooklyn Bohl’s older brother, Bryant, won a light purple grand champion ribbon with his custom-made wooden sled, each piece cut with a jigsaw.
“I traced a Rugby Ice Hawks design on it and painted it because that’s my hockey team,” Bohl explained.
Sabina Bohl, Brooklyn and Bryant’s mom, said “I don’t know yet how many ribbons my kids will have. My kids have seven blue ribbons and one grand champion so far.”
Feickert said of the Cloverbud contestants, “They’re enthusiastic when they tell you about their projects. I think of myself as a young kid and I was just so shy. They come right up and tell you about their project and they’re really excited and it’s just really fun to see.”
Colleen Stutrud, who judged sewing and photography projects, said, “The talent level is so high. This year, it’s really good, especially for such young ages.”
Stutrud said a year away from the static contest may have given the contestants more time to think about their entries.
In the new agriculture center, 4-H’ers showed off their pets and livestock.
Zachary and Levi Selensky tended several unique hens they brought for judging.
“This one’s called a Sapphire Olive Egger,” their mom, Sara Selensky said of one hen. “There’s another one called a Moran, and this one will lay a really dark brown egg – almost like a red-brown.”
Selensky said her family raises egg layers, while her brother-in-law’s family raises chickens for butchering.
“This is a nice space,” Selensky said of the new building. “Before, we had to show our animals outside, but this is a nice arena.”
Sawyer Brossart brought an assortment of birds to the competition.
“I have 12 birds altogether,” Brossart said. “I have Rhode Island Reds; the white ones are Delawares; the black ones are Silver-Laced Wyandottes and I have Pekin ducks.”
Brossart said he hatched the ducks and pullets in an incubator and cared for them in a stock tank before moving them to cages. “They were hatched in March of 2021,” Brossart said. “We grind our own feed – there’s a tiny bit of wheat, corn, barley and soybean meal in it.”
“I have to clean their cage every day. It’s a lot of work going out and feeding them every morning, but I like it,” Brossart added.
Brossart took home reserve and grand champion ribbons for one rooster and a set of hens.
On livestock day, brothers Nathan and Evan Thiel tended their calves, Trevor and Tracy in a pen in the agriculture center.
“We’ve been raising our calves for two months,” Nathan Thiel said. “We feed them bottles and use milk replacer. Then, we give them baby calf pellets and grass and water.”
“We walk them around, too,” Nathan added.
“We put them in a pen,” Evan said.
The brothers said they planned to put Tracy out to pasture and sell Trevor.
Nathan said raising the calves was “fun, if they’re not stubborn.” Turning to his calves, he added sternly, “Tracy, no more stubbornness.”
Across the building, Rylah Hager watched her grand champion pig, Skipper, in his pen.
“We bought him at a pig farm in Enderlin called Galbreath Farms,” Hager said. “They raise show pigs.”
Hager said she feeds her pigs “a mix from our local elevator made from corn and soybeans, but they eat anything, really.”
“He has his own personality,” Hager added. “He likes to jump around and he gets crazy when we let him out of his pen. He’ll roll over like a dog and let us rub his belly.”
Animals and fair entries remained on display through the fair’s end June 27.
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