There is nothing like the smell of a 4-H barn during fair. Some may say it’s not a pleasant smell, but for us farm kids, it’s one of the most wonderful smells in the world. Whether its horses, goats, sheep, pigs, llamas, or cows, to the 4-Her that smell is heaven on Earth. It’s the accumulation of years of hard work, and a chance to show off what that produces. For Kylie Ballard, it’s time to say goodbye to that smell as 2021 marks her last year in 4-H after joining when she was just 8.
“I started 4-H after watching my older brother participate,” says Kylie. “He met so many new people and had so much fun showing that I couldn’t wait until I was old enough to join 4-H.” As soon as she was old enough—at 8 years old—Kylie did just that. She started out in Hogs R Us, a pig 4-H club. Two years ago, she also joined Beef Masters, a cow 4-H club.
She raises and shows market steers with them. In both clubs, Kylie has market projects, meaning the animals are auctioned off at the end of fair to the highest bidder. The 4-Hers get the money their animal takes in, teaching them about economy, business and raising food. “I really enjoy raising and training my animals,” shares Kylie. “It means a lot to me to raise high quality food for my community.”
The 4-Hers have to take care of their market project themselves, keep track of what they eat and how much, and their weight. The animals are weighed at certain intervals to make sure they are not too skinny or too fat: they have to be just the right mix of muscle and fat to make the best meat…and fetch the best price at the auction. “Besides learning how to raise and care for animals, 4-H has taught me many life skills- time and money management, communication, and responsibility to name a few,” Kylie adds.
Like every 4-Her, she was disappointed in not having fair the last two years, even more so as this was her last chance. “It is my last year in 4-H, it’s unfortunate that my time in 4-H is ending like this,” she shares, but she doesn’t plan on staying away for long. “I plan to volunteer in the future. It’s a lot of fun to help the younger members!”
This year, instead of the Clark County Fair, they are had an event for 4-H members only to show their projects for a day. “I am excited to get out there with my animals and see all the friends I’ve made over the years,” says Kylie of the event.
Kylie is ready to take the next step in life’s adventure, college! She will be attending Clark College in the fall to study bio medical sciences. Her plan is to become a physician’s assistant.
If your child is interested in 4-H, or maybe you would like to learn about volunteering opportunities, visit the Clark County 4-H extension website.