4H Welcomes New Members to State Fair

Listen to the Story

The Ohio State Fair opens this morning for its 157th run. Participants of the 4H club are a long-standing tradition at the fair and but, today many new members are not from the farm.

18 year old Trey Miller enjoys taking care of his ewe called Ears. Miller lives on a 10 acre farm in Baltimore. It’s his 11th year in 4H.

“I like to travel, meet new people. I like the competitive nature of everything. You can do everything in 4H really,” said Miller.

Miller says that while not all of his friends are involved in 4H, they are interested in what he does.

“I’ve got tons of friends that don’t know anything about animals, and they’ll come to the fair to watch me show and support me the whole way and it’s kind of funny, added Miller.

About 300,000 young people between 5 and 19 are a part of 4H in Ohio. The program helps them learn about leadership, citizenship, life skills and raising animals. 4H program coordinator for statewide events, Allen Auck says participation in the organization is growing with about half of the membership from non-farm and urban areas.

“Our base is still in agriculture, but our target audience now is our urban kids and the kids in inner cities and trying to provide activities for them to learn leadership and citizenship skills,” Auck said.

20 year old Natalie Hull of Hilliard has never lived on a farm but she’s been involved with 4H since she was 8. Hull took sewing classes and learned how to be a budget-conscious shopper.

“Really I just stayed involved with the program because it taught you great life lessons and skills that really pushed me forward in life. I learned great leadership skills as well as responsibility and time management and those are skills that are just going to help me in the future,” Hull explained.

While 4H started as an agricultural club it recognizes that times have changed and many people don’t live on a farm with livestock. That’s why cooking, public speaking and money projects are growing in popularity. 4H members like Angela Binder of Mahoning County will still have many opportunities to show their horseback riding skills.

“It’s exciting, like I like riding against new people in different competitions. It’s a new challenge every time,” exclaimed Binder.

Binder’s mother Julie says the 4H organization is a family tradition.

“Really important, I was in 4H when I was younger and then I got my kids involved and the friends they meet. And they’re good kids. A lot of responsibility, keep them out of trouble you know. They have their horses,” said Binder.

But, even those without horses can have many valuable experiences as 4H expands its membership.