- Many people think of local 4-H clubs as organizations that
help kids care for and show livestock at county and state
besides animal and agricultural sciences, today’s 4-H
youngsters -approximately 6 million of them across the United
States-are learning robotics, photography, computer science,
arts and crafts, model railroading, and much more. 4-H is open
to children and teenagers ages 5-19.
are practicing skills crucial to a successful life,” said
James Boling, youth and family educator for the University of
In 1902 in
Clark County, Ohio, A.B. Graham started a group for youth
known as “The Corn Growing Club.” The group evolved into
4-H, now the largest empowerment and development organization
for youth in the United States.
Ellis, a 4-H support staff member for the UW-Waukesha
extension, said over 500 area youths participate in 4-H clubs.
really great volunteers that dedicate time to recruitment,”
noted that about 40 Waukesha-area kids are selected to show
livestock, including goats, sheep, cattle, pigs, and chickens,
and other animals such as rabbits, in the Wisconsin State
Fair. Other youths exhibit arts and crafts such as woodworking
and photography at both the Waukesha County and Wisconsin
Jones, a 4-H leader who owns a farm in the Town of Vernon,
comes from a long line of 4-H members.
fourth-generation 4-H family. I've been in 4-H since I was a
kid,” she said.
three children - 18-year-old twins Brody and Brianna and
12-year-old Brooklyn - have shown sheep, chicken and rabbits
at the State Fair.
year, Brooklyn's rabbits will enter the hopping competition,
where they can participate in events including agility, long
jump, high jump, and crooked course.
that State Fair animals are judged on aspects such as weight
kind of like the Westminster Dog Show,” she said.
livestock and rabbits for the State Fair showing requires lots
of hard work and dedication. To ensure they are not overweight
or underweight, for example, animals’ food must be weighed
on a scale before mealtimes.
Udulutch, a dairy leader for the Brookfield Blazers 4-H club
and Pewaukee resident, has also passed down her love of the
organization to her daughters. Oldest daughter and former club
member Brittany, 22, enjoyed participating in the organization
so much that she majored in animal sciences at UW-River Falls.
Brittany now works as an intern for Como Park Zoo in
Emily, 18, is currently majoring in dairy science at UW-River
many 4-H kids involved in agricultural and animal projects
live on farms and in rural areas, others live in urban areas.
livestock is not a barrier to showing State Fair animals.
example, programs such as Horseless Horse allow youths who do
not own a horse to “borrow” one to show at the Fair. The
4-H member does not have to pay fees for the animal’s care.
Blazers, along with several other local 4-H clubs, show cattle
from Cozy Nook Farm in Waukesha. The family farm, operated by
Tom and Joan Oberhaus and son Charlie, milks about 70 dairy
cows, said Udulutch.
the Blazers hold a “cow-picking day” at the farm so the
members can decide which animal they’d like to prepare to
show at the county fair. Training and grooming a cow for show
takes approximately five months, added the dairy leader.
biggest part is having a relationship with that animal,” she
said. Because cows recognize scent, youth can help develop a
bond by brushing them and walking with them. Showmanship is
part of county and state fair judging criteria for livestock,
and kids can develop that by spending quality time with their
recommend that kids spend one hour a week per animal,” said
feels that 4-H clubs teach kids valuable skills such as time
management and helps instill qualities such as reliability.
4-H kids, she added, are “raising a very responsible
workforce for the future.”
said that youths who join 4-H are more likely to be involved
in their communities, and that there are local clubs tailored
to fit many different interests.
definitely a hidden gem, with so much more to offer than just
animals,” he said. “We are working very hard to get the