Local 4-H club celebrates 75 years

 

Last updated 8/1/2023 at 9:50am

Photo by Grace Pulver

Cloverdale Livestock Club is set for the Deschutes County Fair. They've been in action for three-quarters of a century.

4-H has been around for 121 years, and for 75 of those years 4-H has thrived in Sisters Country as Cloverdale Livestock Club. 4-H is the nation's largest youth development organization, surpassing scouting. The 4-H idea is simple: Help young people and their families gain the skills needed to be proactive forces in their communities, and develop ideas for a more innovative economy.

Today, 4-H serves youth in rural, urban, and suburban communities in all 50 states. 4-H-ers are tackling the nation's top issues, from global food security, climate change and sustainable energy, to childhood obesity and food safety.

4-H out-of-school programming, in-school enrichment programs, clubs, and camps also offer a wide variety of STEM opportunities - from agricultural and animal sciences to rocketry, robotics, environmental protection, and computer science - to improve the nation's ability to compete in key scientific fields and take on the leading challenges of the 21st century.

Much has been written on these pages about the Cloverdale Livestock Club given how interwoven they are into the fabric of our rural life. In case you have forgotten, 4-H stands for head, heart, hands, and health. Deeply rooted in the 4-H culture is character, as defined by the six pillars of character – trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship.

As the Club prepares for the upcoming Deschutes County Fair, The Nugget got a firsthand, up-close look at their preparation. Last week about 20 members and their animals gathered at the Moss/Walker Ranch east of town to put themselves and their animals through a competitive trial.

In the past, the week before the Fair was a formal practice with no scoring, but this year leaders decided on a full dress rehearsal just as it will be in competition August 2-6. On the one hand the kids were relaxed, in a good mood, playful even. Until the time came for them to get into the ring. Then it was all business.

Cattle, followed by goats, then pigs, and finally sheep were herded into position all groomed to perfection and all having made weight - being within the range allowed for entry. For steers, that's 1,100 pounds minimum (and also under two years in age). Seeing these young people navigate their beefy charges is impressive in itself.

Then as they get them into a stance, legs positioned just so, head just right - which is artistry, ranch style - and keeping them calm in the process by stroking their stomachs with a five- to six-foot cattle pole.

Hayden Kunz, 18, is aging out. This will be his last fair, his ninth; four with sheep and five with steers. This year he's betting it all on Murdock, a black angus, who appears ready. On September 18, Hayden heads to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas for basic training, an intense 7.5-week course. After that he'll transfer to Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, Texas where he will be trained in cryptology and intelligence.

That's a world away from Sisters, where Hayden attended district schools from K-12, graduating this year. He's one of three graduates from the class of 2023 who have enlisted in the Air Force. Gus Patton is already enduring basic training, and Mason Sellers will soon be on his way in service of his country. All three are friends.

Growing up on a ranch in Sisters was character building for Kunz. His family runs OK Ranch, about 400 acres of cattle, sheep, and hay. Military service does not run deep in the family, although his brother, David Keeton, is a Marine.

Kunz chose the Air Force after researching all the military branches and seeking guidance from as many as he could reach. He has a quiet, unassuming nature that seems to match well with his chosen Air Force specialty.

"My parents are my greatest inspiration," Kunz said, adding that "Sheryl Yeager and Tony Cosby are teachers I will always remember and who are a big influence on me."

Yeager teaches flight science, health, and social science. Cosby specializes in design, tech, and vocational arts.

Kunz is used to working with his hands. In addition to wrangling show steers and helping on the ranch, he has made two guitars and his own snowboard.

Pam Mitchell, a 4-H club leader for almost 35 years, said, "We will miss Hayden and his many contributions to our Club's success. He's a natural born leader and I am sure he will succeed beyond expectations in the Air Force."

 

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