Graduating 4-H: 10 Years of Family

by Caitlyn Andrews August 04, 2015

Graduating 4-H: 10 Years of Family Dairy Club

Every 4-Her knows what the 10th year means. Showing at the fair as a 10-year member means you have years of experience under your belt and you're one of the top dogs in your 4-H club. You've been there, done that.You know the fastest way to get your animal clean and keep them clean. You even know where your favorite food stands are and can estimate just how much time you have to run and grab a bite before your class is up. You know just how early you need to get to the fairgrounds to get ready for the show.

You know the fastest way to get your animal clean and keep them clean. You even know where your favorite food stands are and can estimate just how much time you have to run and grab a bite before your class is up. You know just how early you need to get to the fairgrounds to get ready for the show.

You've more than likely been in the show ring countless times and even though you know just how to act in front of the judge and have practiced endlessly at home, you probably still get nervous when you step in the ring.Besides being at the top of your 4-H game, the 10th year also means saying goodbye. The 10th year of 4-H comes hand in hand with graduation, parting ways with 4-H friends, and moving on from your career as a 4-Her. Amy Schrock is one such 10 year member and this year at the fair she tried her best to hold back the tears when she showed her Guernsey cows for the last time as a 4-H Dairy Club member. I was able to talk with Amy on her last show day and got to see first hand how emotional the last day can be for a 10-year member.

Besides being at the top of your 4-H game, the 10th year also means saying goodbye. The 10th year of 4-H comes hand in hand with graduation, parting ways with 4-H friends, and moving on from your career as a 4-Her. Amy Schrock is one such 10 year member and this year at the fair she tried her best to hold back the tears when she showed her Guernsey cows for the last time as a 4-H Dairy Club member. I was able to talk with Amy on her last show day and got to see first hand how emotional the last day can be for a 10-year member.

10 Years of 4-H

Amy was involved with the Elkhart County 4-H Dairy Club for 10 years and 5 of those years she was part of the Guernsey Club. She even participated in Saddle Club for 3 years and Harrison Helpers for 6 years. Even though she was involved in other clubs during her 4-H career, the Dairy Club has always held a special place in her heart. Besides showing cows because it's something she enjoys herself, participating in the fair has become a family event for the Schrocks. Both of Amy's younger brothers show in the Dairy Club and her parents have always been there to support them in their 4-H careers. Even her extended family often comes to the fair to watch them show. The best part of showing as a family for Amy has been that they get to spend a lot of time together and it forces them all to get along. 

The Importance of Family

I asked Amy who her favorite animal that she has shown was. The answer took her back to her first year as a 4-Her. Vera was her Christmas present that first year. She loved Vera and learned a lot through showing her for about 5 years. This year she showed her mother-daughter team of Guernseys, Peaches (the mother and also the Schrock family favorite) and Zola (the daughter).

As much as she enjoyed showing her two cows this year, Vera will always be her favorite. I assumed that Amy's best moment of her 4-H career would naturally involve Vera, but it didn't. Amy's most memorable 4-H moment was when her little brother, Matthew, won Reserve Grand Champion with his Guernsey heifer.

When I asked her why, Amy had a simple answer, "Because he was excited." Her response was a testament to just how much 4-H is a family event. Amy has won plenty of ribbons as a 4-Her, but the most important one for her was the ribbon that her brother won. Without even realizing it, the fair often teaches 4-Hers life lessons like the importance of family.

Pictured Above: 10 Year Member display made by Amy's family for the 2015 4-H Fair

One Last 4-H Show Surprise

Amy didn't win her last class in the Dairy Club. She took 2nd place and the judge only had the 1st place winner come back for the championship class. Typically, 1st and 2nd place compete in the championship class together. Though she was disappointed, it certainly didn't get the best of her. Amy was still smiling and happy to have gotten the opportunity to show.

She was able to watch her brothers compete in their classes and got to experience one last show mishap. Right before her class, Amy's show skirt ripped beyond repair (at least what duct tape could repair without a sewing kit on hand). She was able to borrow her brother's white show pants and was lucky that they fit. Just another example of how a 4-H family has each other's backs. Her last show at the fair wouldn't have felt right without something going wrong.

You can try to plan for everything, but showing animals can be unpredictable. I guess that's just another one of the life lessons learned through 4-H: how to think on your feet.

Advice for New 4-Hers

When asked what advice she would give to someone who's new to showing dairy cows Amy said, "Try your best. You can always improve. Know that your animal isn't perfect and that's okay. You just have to know how to show around your flaws."

Amy will be moving on to college this fall. She'll be staying on campus, but that won't stop her from coming back to help her brothers show next year at the fair. Amy may have held it together for her last show, but it wasn't easy for her mom. "Yeah, she's cried," Amy smiled when I asked her how her mom was holding up. Can you blame her? After all, 4-H is a family event. 



Caitlyn Andrews
Caitlyn Andrews

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