From left, Sarah Aschenbrenner, Addie Kilgore and Lauren Makin complete their year on the Wallowa County 4-H court with the culmination of the fair on Saturday. (KATY NESBITT/The Observer)
ENTERPRISE — The sun sets this week on the 2012-2013 4-H court’s reign, and what a busy year it was for Addie Kilgore, Sarah Aschenbrenner and Lauren Makin.
To the outsider, 4-H may seem to be about animals, cooking, camp and county fairs. The organization’s mission, “engaging youth to reach their fullest potential” is easily overseen by the kids who are having a good time with their friends learning archery, riding skills and animal husbandry.
In the fray of competition, leadership skills are the underpinnings of the more than 100-year-old institution.
Each year in Wallowa County, a few young women go the extra mile as ambassadors of 4-H. The process starts in July when candidates interview for the opportunity to represent the county’s program.
Sarah Aschenbrenner of Enterprise said they are asked 4-H-related questions and what they want to do to improve the program. She said she and her horse, Kat, are members of the Nez Perce Riders and she is showing a pig for FFA at the fair.
Addie Kilgore and her horse, Calboy, are also members of the Nez Perce Riders club. She belongs to the Golden Arrow livestock club for which she, too, raised a pig for the fair. She said she likes trail riding and jumping and this year joined the serpentine during the grand entry of the Chief Joseph Days Rodeo as the great-granddaughter of the rodeo’s founder, Harley Tucker.
Lauren Makin is in the Spur of the Moment horse and livestock club. She raised a steer for the fair and said in riding she prefers gaming — pole bending and running barrels especially.
Debi Schreiber, the county’s 4-H Extension agent, said the court is a tradition dating back to when a duke and duchess represented the county.
“It’s an opportunity to have lots of unique leadership experiences,” Schreiber said.
The girls raise money for their outfits, which they get to choose for themselves, including a belt buckle, Kilgore’s favorite part of the wardrobe.
Schreiber said the girls have a handful of activities in which they are expected to participate — mostly parades around the region and helping with the 4-H auction. The rest of the events the girls chose themselves — like helping at the Stockgrowers dessert auction and the Enterprise book fair.
“They did something in every community in the county,” Schreiber said. “They were excited about everything they did.”
At Alpenfest, Aschenbrenner said they served food, but also learned to dance and yodel.
Makin said, “It was a fun year. I wish it was longer.”
This year’s court will be announced during the 4-H awards at 4 p.m. Saturday at the Wallowa County Fairgrounds.