Qualifying at the state level takes a lot of skill and an even greater amount of hard work to get there.
That’s especially true when the standard of qualifying at state doesn’t come down to defeating your opponent, but rather, accomplishing a score that will be good enough for state competition.
Eight Scioto County youngsters — including six who are of 13 years of age or younger — earned the right to qualify for the Ohio 4-H Youth Development State Fair, which is located at the Ohio Exposition Center and State Fair in Columbus.
For Leslie Johnson, whose daughter, Lainie, qualified for the state tournament, seeing her own flesh and blood, along with additional Scioto County hands, qualify among the best 4-H competitors in the state, is certainly thrilling.
“I know that all of the kids and their families are all really excited,” Johnson said. “For some of them, they’ve already been to the state fair three or four times. I’m glad that their hard work has paid off. I know that each of the kids put lots and lots of time into it, so it’s good to see their hard work is paying dividends.”
4-H, which is a program that has been implemented across the United States, is “a community of young people across America who are learning leadership, citizenship, and life skills as they work in partnership with caring adults,” according to the Ohio 4-H website. The Ohio 4-H program emphasizes positive youth development, hands-on learning, and research as part of instilling the core values necessary for kids to succeed.
Throughout the course of 2017, each of the eight qualifying hands — which include Katie Argueta, Kenzie Boehm, Lainie Johnson, Destiny Kingrey, Molly Meeker, Lyndsay Mefford, Christopher Rachford, and Dalton Wright, all competitors in the horse realm — have worked and developed all year long in order to qualify for the 4-H Fair, which runs from Monday, July 24 to Friday, July 28.
“They have qualifying shows across the state that they can go to,” Johnson said. “They have to qualify in two categories in order to be allowed to go, so most of them went to a qualifying show in Jackson, and a few went to Adams County, also.”
These competitions, Johnson says, are really intriguing in the sense that the main goal is about the individual bringing his or her best stuff, rather than defeating a set or a group of individuals. At these 4-H events, kids and adults encourage each other, and a template preset by the state is used to determine who qualifies at the state level.
“It’s not about them competing against each other,” Johnson said. “It’s more about competing against yourself. The kids don’t get ribbons, and they’re not placed or anything. “You could have 100 kids there or you could have five kids there, it doesn’t matter. Qualifying at the state level is totally determined by the standards that the state has set for the kids.”
As a whole, however, Johnson just hopes that each of the eight qualifiers have as much fun pursuing their passions at the state level as they have ever had.
“I’m really excited for each of the qualifiers,” Johnson said. “I believe that they’re going to have a really good week at the fair. It’s a lot of fun for them. They get to make friends, and they really don’t know each other that well until they get to go up (to Columbus) for the week. They get to learn a lot from other kids and build a lot of friendships through 4-H.”
Reach Kevin Colley at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930 OR on Twitter @ColleyKevin7