10-year 4-H members share their experiences in 4-H program
By Navar Watson
Showing llamas at the Hamilton County 4-H fair “just sort of stuck” with Westfield resident Sarah McConkey after she tried it for the first time in third grade. Now, she’s celebrating her 10th year doing it.
The llama project is one of few 4-H programs where the participant does not have to own the animal, she said. This allowed her and many others to borrow the llamas from Shagbark Ridge Llamas in Noblesville.
“I was excited to get a chance to work with [farm animals]since I don’t technically live on a farm myself,” McConkey said.
She likes interacting with llamas especially because they each have their own personality.
“They’re sort of like people,” she said. “After working with a few for a while, you can sort of start reading their emotions. It’s fun to figure out how smart they are and how well you can train them.”
The llama she is showing this year is named Sassy Lassie. Despite the name, she’s “really sweet, as far as llamas go.”
McConkey cited club leader Marilyn Nenni, who runs Shagbark Ridge Llamas, as a big help and inspiration.
The biggest lesson McConkey learned in her ten years was that “hard work brings good rewards,” she said. “If you work to know someone or some animal, like llamas, you can end up being friends for life.”
McConkey said she’ll miss her friendships the most as she transitions out of 4-H, as well as the many days spent on the Nenni’s farm with llamas.
This year, McConkey said she will try just as hard as any year at improving and being the best she can be in her craft. She hopes to set an example for the younger children in the program.
McConkey plans to study biology at Ball State University in the fall.
Westfield’s Riley Hutson will be celebrating his 10th year at the Hamilton County 4-H Fair this summer, getting to show his pigs one last time before college.
“It’s the one week of the year that I can feel like a farmer,” Hutson said.
This year, Hutson will be showing two pigs, a duroc pig named Eeyore and a crossbreed named Piglet. Hutson has participated in the swine project since his first year.
Purchasing the pigs from a family friend every year, Hutson raises them from late April or early May up until the time of the fair. He receives guidance and support from his mother, a former ten-year member, and his grandfather, who once raised pigs.
Hutson particularly likes pigs because they “are a lot like dogs.”
“(They) pant like a dog and run up to you, and eventually they get to know you,” he said. “They end up feeling like a pet after the few months that you have them.”
Hutson said he looks forward to seeing his cousins’ projects at 4-H this year. He hopes to help train them in showmanship techniques. To him, showmanship took a lot of getting used to.
During Hutson’s first year in 4-H, his pig got excited and ran between his legs during the show. Hutson, only nine years old, was lifted off the ground, riding the pig as it ran around, generating laughs from the audience.
Regardless, this incident didn’t prevent him from showing pigs for next nine consecutive years.
After finishing 4-H, Hutson said he will really miss that “kind of attachment” a pig has with its owner, especially since he does not plan on raising pigs in the future.
“Not doing this is kind of like almost losing a pet,” he said.
Hutson plans to attend Indiana University in the fall, majoring in medical physics and modern business. He hopes to pursue a career in radiology.
10-year 4-H members, parents and club
Jordyn Alexander – Todd and Kyle Alexander – Westfield Whiz Kids
Elizabeth Bailey – Dennis and Susan Etchison Bailey – Husky 4-H’ers
Mckayla Barber – Rene and Dale Kougel and Paula and David Barber – Jolly Rogers
Mckenzie Barber – Rene and Dale Kougel and Paula and David Barber – Jolly Rogers
Samantha Bates – Bill and Paula Bates – Westfield Whiz Kids
Chelsea Bays – Fred and Dyan Bays – Llama Trekkers
Christopher Beck – Scott and Shantel Beck – Husky 4-H’ers
Ashley Binder – Greg and Cindy Binder – Carmel 4-C’s
Samantha Boram – Nikki Boram – Hamilton County Jr. Sheep Association and Fishers Showstoppers
Forrest Bowden – Wayne and Tracy Bowden – Husky 4-H’ers
Joseph Box – Howard and Peggy Box – Friends Forever
Courtney Boyd – Kenny and Vicky Boyd – 4-Leaf Clover Cloggers
Sarah Bruns – Mark and Jody Bruns – Carmel Colleens & Gents
Ben Burdick – Brandt and Vicki Burdick –Carmel 4-C’s
Emily Burris – Lisa Burris – Progressive Farmers
Samuel Chance – Stephen and Kimberly Chance – Husky 4-H’ers
Joshua Clark – Jerry and April Clark – Mudsockers
Victoria Comin – Gilberto and Julia Comin – Winners Unlimited
Jana Cooley – Kay Cooley – Dog Obedience
Emily Dzirbik – David and Diane Dzirbik – Winners Unlimited
Abigail Esrael – Ann Williams and Trevor Esrael – Harey Hoppers
Joel Flanders – Jim and Suzanne Flanders – Hamilton County Jr. Sheep Association
Mark Fletcher – Matt and Jill Fletcher – Clover Kids
Stephanie Foerder – Mark and Liane Foerder – Carmel Colleens & Gents and Llama Trekkers
Mary “Lizzie” Ford – Fishers 4-Leaf Clovers
Brad Freeh – Mike and Jill Freeh – Harey Hoppers
Kendall Gatewood – Bruce and Chelse Gatewood – Forest Hill
Madeleine German – Rick and Ellen German – Carmel 4-C’s
Evan Goley – Troy and Karen Goley – Fishers Showstoppers
Brooke Gooch – Michael Gooch and Todra Hart – Sheridan Ag
Taylor Good – Jeremy and Sheri Good – Carmel 4-C’s
Elizabeth Marie Gore – Bob and Brenda Gore – Fishers 4-Leaf Clovers
Cassadi Griffey – Dave and Wendy Griffey – Jolly Rogers
Allison Hamilton – Charles and Susan Hamilton – Stringtown Pikers
Morgan Hammon – Troy and Dawn Hammon – Royal Rascals
Abbie Hancock – Dave and Pam Hancock – Heartland 4-H’ers
Shelby Hobbs – Jim and Lynette Hobbs – Mudsockers
Gabrielle House – Matt House and Angie Helminiak – Husky 4-H’ers
Alexandra Hudson – Tom and Julie Hudson – Giddy Up Gang
Riley Hutson – Jeff and Karrie Hutson – Westfield Whiz Kids
Jessica Kiser – Brian and Chris Kiser – Winners Unlimited
Noah Kiser – Kevin and Pam Kiser – Carmel Colleens & Gents
Colin J. Krieder – Kevin and Rosanna Krieder – Friends Forever
Kaylin Lapel – Bryan and Jennifer Lapel – Carmel 4-C’s
Sara Latini – Bob and Pam Latini – Winners Unlimited
Sarah Lawhorn – Roland and Jennifer Lawhorn – 4-Leaf Clover Cloggers
Elizabeth Longbottom – Bruce and Nancy Longbottom – Friends Forever
Ty Martz – Fred and Patricia Martz – Shooting Sports Club
Sarah McConkey – Terry and Joan McConkey – Llama Trekkers
Madison McFadden – R. Scott and Lisa McFadden – Llama Trekkers and Carmel Colleens & Gents
Hannah Milam – Kirk and Rebecca Milam
Andrew Miller – Phil and Carol Miller – Sheridan Ag
Jordan Mills – Bruce and Kelly Mills – Husky 4-H’ers
Kara Moody – Keith and Beth Moody – Noblesville H & H
Katy Morris – Bill and Lisa Morris – Forest Hill
Paige Morris – Lori Jordan – Westfield Cloverleaves
Paige Neff – Dylan Neff and Melissa Stem
Haley Nixon – Jim and Kim Nixon – Walnut Lassies & Laddies
Jared Osswald – Brad and Amber Osswald – Walnut Lassies & Laddies
Olivia Patterson – Larry and Theresa Patterson – Carmel 4-C’s
Amy Pavey – Kevin and Lisa Pavey – Friends Forever
Ciara Pickering – Bruce and Kathy Pickering – Carmel 4-C’s
Megan Pickering – Brian and Jo Pickering – Heartland 4-H’ers
Kristen Pouch – Mark and Terri Pouch – 4-Leaf Clover Cloggers
Mikayla Pugel – Mike and Agnes Pugel – Progressive Farmers
Connor Purdy – Steve and Emily Purdy – Westfield Whiz Kids
Taylor Riley – Robert and Sandy Riley – Giddy Up Gang
Hannah Roaten – Bob and Carol Roaten – Sheridan Ag
Kaity Roberts – Jim and Jan Roberts – Westfield Whiz Kids
Kyle Schmidt – Doug and Carol Schmidt – Stringtown Pikers
Richard “Joey” Schnarr – Jacob and Jennifer Schnarr – Southeastern 4-H’ers
Margaret Sharples-Gordon – Keith Sharples and Sylvia Gordon – Stringtown Pikers
Alexis Skinner – John and Pennie Skinner – Giddy Up Gang
Maggie Speake – Mathew and Jennifer Speake – Carmel 4-C’s
Kendall Speicher – Randy and April Speicher – Heartland 4-H’ers
Ciera Spencer – Jeff and Angela Spencer – Sheridan Ag
Helen Storms – Mike and Lisa Storms – Winners Unlimited
Heather Stuckey – Steven and Dana Stuckey – Westfield Cloverleaves
Amanda Summe – Mike and Joni Summe – Sheridan Ag
Courtney Tate – Scott and the late Kathy Tate – Jackson Hotshots
Andrew R. Thieme – Ron and Sally Thieme – Progressive Farmers
Paul C. Thieme – Ron and Sally Thieme – Progressive Farmers
Shelbi Tidd – Jon and Wendy Tidd – Mudsockers
Kelsie Waitt – Kent and Brenda Waitt – Sheridan Ag