Friday, August 5, 2016


Every day its in the news, all this talk from our two Presidential elects who are planning to make America great again.  I began to think that where I just was fortunate enough to be, America is great!  So, where was I?  What was I participating in?  Anyone who knows me, knows that it either had something to do with animals, rabbits, goats, or sheep, or I had to be at a 4-H event, or a combination of both.  Well, if you guessed both, you guessed right.

This past week, I enjoyed every minute of participating in the 2016 Pa 4-H State Achievement Days.  I am so thankful for all of the opportunities that 4-H has to offer. This is an event, held at Penn State Campus, where 4-Hers can go and compete in one competition such as rabbit bowl, livestock skillathon, horse judging, chicken BBQ, questing, and so much more. This year, I participated in the Rabbit and Cavy bowl.  We are judged both as an individual as we make our way through a skill-a-thon that contained a section of Breed I.D., nest box scenarios, test your knowledge, and more.  Next, we gathered with our team and we participated in a quiz bowl.  You really have to be quick to answer because the competition is tough.  I placed first in the junior individual division and my team placed second overall in the quiz bowl.  We had a great time!

You know, though, 4-H State Achievement Days isn't just about the competition.  We attend opening ceremonies where there is always a very inspirational speaker who works to instill leadership skills in each of us.  This year's speaker shared his story all the while teaching us about setting goals and being persistent to achieve them.  I began to think that if more youth had opportunities like I and my fellow 4-H'ers had, perhaps we wouldn't be worried about our youth or our country. 

I've been blessed to have many opportunities as a result of 4-H and many other wonderful organizations that I've been a part of.  I am so very thankful to all the people who have helped me achieve many of my accomplishments such as recently earning my registrar's license at age 14 through the American Rabbit Breeders Association!  I could not have done that without the help from Mrs. Ruth-Ann Bell, Matt Bishop, Ashley, my sister, and my mom.  They were always there for me when I needed help to study or go to a show to work with another judge.  My accomplishments at 4-H State Achievement Days were made possible with the help of Mrs. Lori Jo Whitehaus, my 4-H rabbit leader. She put together my team and held study sessions at her house, which I've attended for several years now. 

The volunteers in the organizations I've been blessed to be a part of give endless support to the youth.  Many of them have their own children who grow up and go on to help as well.  I've also appreciated the additional support I've received from the judges and registrars who worked with me as I strived to complete my license.  Mr. Eric Stewart has always been available to answer all of my questions, Mr. Rob Frizzell, Mrs. Bonnie Burdick, and Mr. G. Joseph Colucci who all allowed me to work with them in judging, and Ms. Danielle Barbacow who worked with me in the registrar process.  There are many other individuals who have worked with me too.  I don't mean to slight them, but I do want to call attention to the fact that so many people help provide opportunities for the youth to learn and grow.

I've seen several posts on Facebook lately speaking about how kids aren't learning basic life skills because those classes have been eliminated in the schools.  Well, 4-H, PaSRBA, The American Rabbit Breeders Association, and many other youth organizations are out there doing just that, teaching kids the value of a strong work ethic and so much more.  I'm so thankful to be a part of it all.  Maybe that's how we start to make America great again.

My Rabbit Bowl Team!

My club leader, Mrs Lori Jo Whitehaus, my 4-H Rabbit Club Leader, and Mrs. Christy Bartley, Assistant Director of Programs at Penn State

Fellow Dauphin County 4-H'ers - Archery Recurve Junior winner - Harmony Biehl, (left), Me - center, Addison Neff - Turkey BBQ and Presentation winner