News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

4-H youth get ready for county fair

Sisters Country is home to the Cloverdale Livestock Club. It’s our version of 4H and it’s been around more than 75 years. The international program began in 1902, boasting more than 6 million current members and 25 million alumnae. Thirty-four youth from 8 to 18 make up the Club here, mostly from Sisters Country but a few from as far as Crooked River Ranch and Bend.

The Deschutes County Fair, August 3-7, is the big event, what the young people are all working toward. This is where the hard work and nurturing hopefully pays off. The excitement was palpable last week when The Nugget met with the Club for weigh-in and final prep at the farm of Karen and Gary Moss and Marianne Walker who raise orchard grass and some grass fed cattle on Highway 20.

You might better know the Moss’ as owners of Secure Storage in Sisters. They also sell biomass wood fire bricks. They’ve been in ranching for 22 years and are key supporters of the Club along with Pam Cyrus Mitchell who has mentored the Club for 28 years. This night, she served as mock judge, putting the members through the same routine they will experience in the ring come the big day.

She coaches them in the subtle ways in which to present their entry and gain points. The Club will be represented in four categories — market cattle, sheep, goats and swine. The kids — they are mature beyond their years so it’s hard calling them as such — hang on her every word, taking cues and asking questions.

Mitchell is joined by a handful of dedicated volunteers. Tim and Kim Keeton from Sisters wrangle the beef category. Swine are mentored by Shonna Pease of Sisters and Deb Barlow shepherds the goat group.

The Club meets two times a month during the school year and weekly in the summer.

When they arrived, the animals were weighed in. Some anxiety showed as young farm animals grow quickly. Would they exceed their weight limit, which for sheep, as an example, is between 110 and 150 pounds?

Hadley Gloeckner, a fifth grader, was pretty sure her Wether sheep was under weight, and was at 102. She explained that the ewe was named WD-40 because it was “rusty, and this is my back-up, so I’m not worried.”

Others were leaning in, giving audible sighs of relief when making weight.

The animals and handlers arrive in pickups pulling stock trailers. The commitment in time and money to participate in 4H is not insignificant. As many don’t drive, mom or dad are on hauling duty but then like most parents they retreat to the viewing area and watch in admiration as their kids are put through their paces.

Constance Kunz, 10, with her ram, Potter, typifies the youth in the Club, often a family affair. She is the third, behind two brothers, who have been CLC members. The Davis brothers compete in the sheep category. Bryant is 15, Asher 14 and Jace 11 and with their respective rams – Albert, Bart and Mario – are keen to compete. Normal sibling rivalry is intensified in the competition starting August 3 at the Deschutes County Fairgrounds.

Kunz is very clear about the importance of the Club to her ambitions.

“It will make me a better farmer when I am older,” she said.

Older brother, Heyden, 17, will be making his eighth fair, this time with 1,270-pound Hammond, a black angus. Hayden Kunz feels good about his chances with Hammond.

“He looks better than my entry last year when I made it to the championship round,” he said.

Eleven-year-old Jade Barlow with her Boer goat, Rocket, likes her chances this year. Her second at the Fair.

“He’s nice and heavy. 92 pounds., she said.

Goats must be between 75 and 105 pounds.

Deschutes County Rodeo Queen, Jessica Sperber, was all business and all smiles as she weighed and paraded her 1,177-pound steer Scooby. Sperber has entered nine years in horses, four in swine and two in cattle. Like nearly all Club members, Sperber, a SELCO Scholarship awardee, is a well-rounded aspiring and inspiring youth who greets adults with a fixed look in the eye and a firm handshake.

It’s an interesting coincidence that the 4-H logo is a four-leaf clover, a symbolic match for Cloverdale Livestock Club. Head, Heart, Hands, and Health are the four Hs in 4H, and they are the four values members work on through fun and engaging programs, not all of which are animal husbandry related.

Recent 4-H emphasis is as much focused on STEM as livestock. Over 5 million annual science projects, 2.5 million healthy living and 2.5 million citizenship projects annually complement the historical roots of 4-H.


Reader Comments(0)

Rendered 07/13/2024 19:20