|Hendrix shows passion, enthusiasm for 4-H|
|Written by Darci Tomky|
With a love of horses and a surprising drive and determination for a 9-year-old, Taylor Hendrix joined six million young people across the country in pledging her head, heart, hands and health to 4-H this year.
“Unspeakable” was the only way Taylor could describe her first year as a Phillips County 4-H member in the Better Beef Makers club. Taylor joined because she thought 4-H looked fun and she had friends from school who told her about what they did in 4-H.
Taylor’s first year in 4-H certainly took her for the ride of her life. “I never thought in my first year I’d be a grand champion,” said Taylor. She came away with the Grand Champion Junior All-Around honor with her horse and Overall Swine Carcass Quality with her pig as well as a number of other champion and high-point rankings at the 2009 Phillips County Fair.
“It has been a fun learning experience and a very eventful first year,” said Taylor’s mom Patty.
Even though Taylor has been riding horses since age 4, a new aspect for her was learning horse showmanship. She went to 4-H clinics to learn how to show her horse Tarzan and said it ended up being pretty easy. Taylor noted she had to keep Tarzan’s head up, help him stand correctly and “make him shine!” The clinics also taught her about how to be safe around horses.
Judges told Taylor they could tell she practiced a lot and had improved from her work at the clinics. Taylor said she practiced with her horse about one hour a day in the weeks leading up to the fair.
“You have to take time and work with it,” said Taylor. “You can’t just let your parents do it because you won’t learn anything.”
Besides showmanship, Taylor also got to compete in riding events at the Fair. As the only rider in the junior category, Taylor hopes other kids will catch some of her excitement and join the 4-H competition with their horses next year.
A new endeavor for Taylor was her swine project. Out of her four pigs—Princess, Porker, Persnickety and Curly—she showed three at the fair. One thing she learned is the judge wants to see the pig, so while showing she had to remember to stand in the correct spot to display her pig best.
Taylor didn’t plan on entering the pet show this year, but because she had her dog Buster at the Fair on the day of the event, her dad convinced her to try it. To her surprise, she ended up with Grand Champion Overall and Best of Show in dog.
Taylor has learned a lot from simply watching various events at the Fair. In advice for others looking at getting involved in 4-H, she said, “Come to the Fair and watch to see what you could do.”
Besides activities at the Fair in July, Taylor had to complete record books for her horse and swine projects. She had to keep track of what she fed them as well as what vaccinations and medicines her horse and pigs needed throughout the year.
4-H is more than just the annual county fair, and Taylor explained she got to attend monthly meetings with her club where she learned about 4-H requirements, played games and got to know other club members. Taylor also got to work in the Better Beef Makers’ snow cone booth at the Fairgrounds.
In addition to showing horse in 4-H, Taylor also competes in barrel racing “just about every weekend.” She loves to travel with Tarzan, going as far as Oklahoma City, Okla., Cañon City, Loveland and McCook, Neb.
Taylor explained her parents let her handle a lot of her own expenses. She has a checking account to pay for the barrel racing entry fees as well as pig feed for her 4-H project. She even bought her pig Princess and is learning how to save money from the livestock auction and gymkhana prizes. Taylor thinks it would be cool to eventually save enough to buy a new live-in trailor so she wouldn’t have to get a hotel room when traveling with Tarzan.
4-H is not something new for the Hendrix family as Taylor’s parents Loren and Patty participated in 4-H and FFA when they were young. Loren was involved in beef and horse in Phillips County while Patty competed in swine in Yuma County.
Patty said 4-H is a good experience for all young people, and it provides good developmental skills. Besides giving opportunities for kids to work with their peers, she said it’s good for them to learn about livestock. They will soon learn whether they love it or hate it, she said.
Taylor is looking forward to her projects for next year, and said in the future she may even want to add beef to her swine and horse projects. When she’s older, Taylor thinks it would be fun to use what she’s learned in 4-H as a judge for some of the events.
Phillips County celebrates 4-H Week
Oct. 4-10 marks the annual national 4-H Week, and the organization is celebrating over 100 years of history. 4-H focuses on leadership, citizenship and life skills through fun, hands-on learning activities.
According to the 4-H website, studies show youth in 4-H do better in school, are more motivated to help others, feel safe to try new things, achieve a sense of self-esteem, develop lasting friendships and become confident, mature adults ready for success in today’s challenging world.
Members age 8-18 can choose from over 1,000 projects including everything from livestock to photography to food and nutrition.
For more information about 4-H in Phillips County, contact the Extension office at 970-854-3616. Check out this week’s edition of the Enterprise for more 4-H Week coverage.