Hard work starts at a young age at rodeo for 4-H exhibitors | VailDaily.com

Hard work starts at a young age at rodeo for 4-H exhibitors

The Eagle County Fair and Rodeo dates back to 1939 when hundreds of folks from the region came to the county seat to share in a day of competition and camaraderie. Along with the ropin' and wranglin' the 4-H exhibits featured livestock, arts and crafts. Housed in the Eagle River Center, the 4-H exhibits are not to be missed today. This is where the hard work and dedication of local youth comes to fruition.

4-H is the largest youth development organization in the nation, helping youngsters pursue interests that range from photography to computers, but we checked in with those raising everything from steers, sheep, chickens, pigs, even bunnies at this year's fair. These kids have worked countless hours to raise an animal worthy of the annual auction. This dedication to tend to and care for some living being other than oneself speaks volumes to the character these kids possess. The 4-H emblem is the four-leaf clover, which stands for Head, Heart, Hands and Health and these kids exemplify all of these qualities.

Logan Story is a 14-year-old 4-H exhibitor who has been showing animals since she was 5 years old. In almost a decade, she has learned much more than how to take care of and show an animal at the Eagle River Center. "Being in 4-H is just like being in one big family, plus you learn so much about responsibility, not only for the animals you raise, but also the money you raise and where it goes. I typically pay back my parents first and then use it towards my next animal and put some away for college," Story said.

It also helps them learn how to handle stress. "This whole week is really hectic and you are running around getting your animal ready to show and your parents are running around trying to help but once I enter the show ring, all that goes away. I just focus on my animal in that exact moment and what I am doing and it really helps calm your mindset," Story said.

Parents notice a difference in their kids who participate in 4-H as well. Lourdes Ferzacca's daughter Olivia has been in 4-H for the past four years. "Over the years I have seen such a change in the way these kids handle themselves and the animals, and how they interact with people looking to purchase the animals. They just seem so much more mature," Ferzacca said. In addition to caring for animals, the kids learn how to manage their money. "My kids actually save their money and invest it and they watch how their investing keeps duplicating, it's just really cool," Ferzacca said. "They are allowed to spend a little of it, but they usually like to save it."

I've had they opportunity over the years to interview the 4-Hers and have always enjoyed it because these kids were all so well spoken and poised, have a lot of respect for their craft and I sensed they were destined for success later in life because of the core values learned through 4-H. The Junior Livestock Auction, which was held on Saturday, July 28, was an opportunity for kids to showcase their hard work and earn money to buy a new animal for next year's auction or put it towards a college fund. These kids learn business and people skills and also become stewards of the community.