Mt Pleasant News
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Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 14, 2018

4-H contestants demonstrate ingenuity at Henry County Fair

Projects help students learn creativity, problem solving
Jul 19, 2018
Photo by: Grace King Henry County Fair judge Nancy Kempker, right, enjoys judging 4-H projects because it keeps her connected to the program now that her children are graduated. Each year, she is impressed by the creativity of the students.

By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News

 

Henry County 4-H students flocked to the fairgrounds Wednesday, July 18 full of nerves as they registered their projects for judging.

Judges from across Iowa were kept busy on the Henry County Fairgrounds as they sat in serious contemplation with the 174 4-H members who brought in projects yesterday to the Exhibit Building. Projects range in interests from agriculture and natural resources to the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, photography and family and consumer science.

Walking away from the judging table, Madisen Kellogg had in her hand a Gold Award. As the judge raved about her Peanut Butter Candy Bar cookies, in the same breath she apologized that she was unable to be considered for the Iowa State Fair. At 10 years old, Kellogg is too young.

Even so, Kellogg walked away proud of the cookies she baked with her grandmother. “The judge said I did good,” Kellogg said, who added Snickers and Hershey bars to the peanut butter batter to make them candy bar cookies. Her parents beamed as she explained what she learned during the trial stages of baking. “If you had less ingredients, you can always add more,” she said.

Alexis Francy, 11, learned that too when baking her Double Chocolate Chip Cookies, which are being considered for the Iowa State Fair. She found the recipe in the New London Music Boosters Great Traditions Cookbook from 1998-1999.

Baking takes time, Francy said. You can’t rush through it, she learned. Francy has been baking with her family ever since she can remember, especially during Christmastime when her dad goes hunting, the rest of the family breaks out ingredients for Chex mix, cookies and specialty peanut butter sandwiches and gets baking.

The Christmastime baking is what has instilled in her the love for it. As she worked with the Double Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe, she learned to not give up even as her cookies turned out too small or too big originally.

“Try, try, try,” Francy said. “You can’t give up right away otherwise you won’t get anywhere.”

Although the project 15-year-old Grace Scheet created wasn’t edible, it did require a recipe. After her mother expressed frustration over going to the store again and again to purchase more laundry detergent, Scheet had an idea — and created her own laundry detergent that can stretch to 400 loads of laundry per batch.

“It works. I liked it,” Scheet said about using her product, which is made from Borax, three bars of soap, baking soda Downy beads and a few other ingredients. One of the aspects the judge appreciated about Scheet’s project is that the Downy beads can be personalized to fit people’s scent preferences.

Scheet also refurbished a laundry basket for her project. It is being considered for the Iowa State Fair.

Other contestants like Westin Miller, 13, found inspiration online and then personalized the product. Miller turned a wooden pallet into a usable and attractive pool side accessory, painting it, turning it on its side and labeling it with big white letters that read “TOWELS.” Miller’s project is complete with hooks for wet towels and baskets for pool toys.

“It’s pretty cool because it’s my first year,” Miller said after he found out he is being considered for the state fair.

Throughout the day, the judges were largely impressed by the quality of projects that passed under their noses. Ron Bower, who has been a judge of numerous county fairs since 1990 and is a judge at the Iowa State Fair, complimented the ingenuity of 4-H students in Henry County.

“It’s always exciting to see what they come up with next,” Bower said. “You can’t believe the ideas these young people submit in an exhibit.”

Fair judge Nancy Kempker, who has been judging at the Henry County fair for 15 years, is always impressed with the variety of artwork students submit. Kempker’s own children used to be involved in 4-H. From them and from the students she judged Wednesday, she sees 4-H as a platform for people to continually be involved in a community.

“I’ve seen in my own kids it gives you life skills of public speaking, leadership and community service,” Kempker said.

Projects will be displayed on the fairgrounds throughout the week.

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