OTTAWA — Thursday’s sunshine brought a multitude of children out to the Putnam County Fair. Their screams and laughter could be heard throughout the fairgrounds. Still, other kids were found working in the barns with their animals.
Jason Hedrick, OSU-Extension and 4-H educator in Putnam County, said more than 800 kids were represented at the Putnam County Fair comprising 24 4-H clubs.
“We have basically all schools in the county represented, nine public and three parochial,” said Hedrick.
While the kids work extremely hard on their fair projects throughout the year, they are also building friendships with other 4-H members.
“I make a lot of friends through 4-H,” said Ethan Geise, 17, of Ottoville. “It’s fun.”
Geise was showing two hogs at the fair and has been in 4-H for four years.
“It helps kids get a better understanding of responsibility,” said Easton Osting, 14, of Columbus Grove.
Osting became involved in 4-H thanks to his stepsister, Hannah Keller.
“She grew up around hogs, and when my dad met her mom, she got me into it,” said Osting.
According to Hedrick, being a part of 4-H helps broaden the kids’ sense of community.
“They make connections with folks outside the classroom and they do that in multiple places throughout the year, not just at the fair. They attend teen leadership groups, like the Junior Fair Board, 4-H camp and community service projects, all of these things bring kids from the county together. They may be opponents on the ball field, but they know each other,” said Hedrick.
Hedrick’s own family moved into a different school district and thanks to 4-H, the transition for his kids was made easier.
“It wasn’t as hard because within that school, they knew some of the kids through 4-H,” said Hedrick.
Marissa Maag, 14, of Ottawa, shows cattle at the Putnam County Fair.
“This is my sixth year in 4-H but my first year showing cows,” said Maag. “I’ve made a lot of friends. We get together outside the fair and then see each other here.”
The 4-H kids work with their animals daily, feeding, grooming and walking them. And the night time is not much different.
“It takes a lot of work and you have to be calm and patient with them because they are animals,” said Connor Hoersten, 17, of Fort Jennings. “At night, the kids are working with the animals and keeping them clean and feeding them.”
Grace Schroeder, 14, of Leipsic, has found her niche with 4-H. She has been a member of 4-H for six years and has shown cattle for six years at the Putnam County Fair.
“I would recommend 4-H. It’s very fun, I like it a lot. I’ve met a lot of friends through 4-H and we get together a lot throughout the year,” said Schroeder.
Reach Merri Hanjora at 567-242-0511.