BROWNSTOWN — 4‑H programs are grounded in the belief that kids learn best by doing.
Completing hands-on projects in areas like science, health, agriculture and civic engagement in a positive environment, they receive guidance from adult mentors and are encouraged to take on proactive leadership roles, according to 4-H.org.
Members can concentrate on one focus area or try a variety of programs throughout their 4‑H experience.
Kirsten Raisor and Hiley Obermeyer have done the latter in their 10 years with Jackson County 4-H.
Raisor did as many as 16 projects in one year, but she only did two for her last year. Her projects have ranged from consumer clothing to foods to collections to health to personality.
Obermeyer always completed a single-digit number of projects each year, including cake decorating, gift wrapping, sewing, foods, child development, home environment, needlecraft and health. She even showed cattle for two years, and she has been a part of Junior Leaders.
Adding all of their projects up, Raisor completed 57 in her career, which was the most of this year’s 37 10-year 4-H’ers, and Obermeyer was second with 39.
Raisor, an 18-year-old 2022 Brownstown Central High School graduate, and Obermeyer, an 18-year-old 2022 Seymour High School graduate, are Jackson County’s 2022 recipients of the Indiana Farm Bureau 4-H Tenure Award.
Every year, two 4-H’ers from each county are recognized for having the greatest number of projects in their careers. The award is sponsored by Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance.
This week during the Jackson County Fair, Raisor and Obermeyer are being recognized for the award with banners hanging on the wall inside the 4-H building at the fairgrounds in Brownstown.
Raisor found out about the award when she went to the building to check on her projects.
“I saw the banner and I was surprised,” she said, smiling. “It means a lot because I’ve tried to take as many projects as I can just because I like it. I didn’t know it would pay off sort of in the end, so it’s cool just to get that award.”
On July 20, Obermeyer helped check in projects at the 4-H building and someone said something about her poster. She responded, “What poster?” They were referring to the banner.
“I immediately texted my mom and I was like, ‘You kept this a secret from me?’ and she was like, ‘I did.’ I was like, ‘Wow!’” she said, smiling. “It’s extremely awesome. I’m super proud of it, super thankful for it, and it just shows how much I have been impacted by 4-H but also how much I’ve given to 4-H.”
Raisor said she started in 4-H because her mother, Susan, was in the program when she was younger. That influenced her to see what it was all about.
In the first year, her projects were consumer clothing and foods.
“I was really into the consumer clothing,” Raisor said. “I remember going to Goodwill and getting all of the clothes to make that project.”
She participated in foods for seven or eight years, making things like cookies, brownies, bread and frozen fruit.
“You just cook whatever is in your level, and then you bring it to a judge, and they give you a ribbon and they take the food and they bring it here (to the fair),” she said.
Collections has been another fun project for Raisor. Last year, she entered wooden shoes. This year, she has a collection of ink pens.
Over the years, she has had several projects advance to the Indiana State Fair.
“It was just fun every year seeing my projects at the fair,” she said. “All that hard work, it was just fun seeing the ribbons you get, and if you go to state fair, that’s even much more fun seeing those go up there.”
Clubwise, Raisor started out in Dare to Be, and once that dissolved, she joined Freetown Leprechauns. She also was in Junior Leaders for three years.
She said she likes the small community aspect of 4-H in Jackson County.
“Everyone knows everyone,” she said. “It’s pretty much the same with 4-H groups and clubs, so that’s nice.”
After one year of Mini 4-H, Obermeyer started in regular 4-H as a student at Seymour-Redding Elementary School. That’s where she found out about the Blue Ribbon Winners club and joined.
That first year, her projects were cake decorating, gift wrapping and sewing for fun. Since then, she said her projects have been “all over the place.”
“It has been very good for me because it has given me lots of opportunities. I have done everything from foods to cake decorating to child development. I’ve done a lot of variety,” she said. “I can try it out, and if I don’t like it, then I don’t do it the next year, and that’s perfect for me because then I don’t have to worry about that. It has been really good for me because I can explore what I’m interested in and see what I like to do.”
One category she has entered multiple times is home environment, which allows her to redo a piece of furniture. This year, she took her grandmother’s 1969 kitchen cabinet and turned it into a television stand to put in her college dorm.
“Those have been super awesome because my mom really likes it because we always have a new piece of furniture in the house and she doesn’t have to go out and buy anything,” Obermeyer said, smiling.
She also has made needlecraft projects, including Christmas pictures.
“I’ll just hang them up in the winter,” she said. “We still have one in our living room. I actually have the very first one in my room right now.”
Along with the TV stand, Obermeyer’s 4-H projects this year are a dress she sewed, Winnie-the-Pooh gift wrapping and a health poster. Junior Leaders also counts as a project, and she has been in that club for five years, this year serving as vice president.
“That has been really, really good for me as far as my leadership skills and all of that stuff,” she said, noting they meet monthly at different places around the county. “It’s just really good for the members to get to see all of the new places.”
Obermeyer said for several years, she has had projects move on to the state fair.
“That’s really cool because we always enjoy going up there and seeing all of the creativity that everyone has,” she said. “It’s crazy how many different projects people can come up with.”
In the fall, Raisor is headed to Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus to study business so she can work in human resources, and Obermeyer plans to study prepharmacy nutrition at Auburn University to become a pharmacist.
Through college and beyond, both expect their 4-H experience to be beneficial.
“Not only the technical skills, like knowing how to do something, but all of the skills that it has given me as far as public speaking and all of those skills, they’ll go into college. Even the recordkeeping because we have to do recordkeeping for every project that we do, that will be awesome in college to help me do that,” Obermeyer said.
“I think it has made me more confident because I’m more familiar with talking to people in my group and club, and it has taught me a bunch of leadership skills, like getting my projects done on time and being responsible to do those,” Raisor said. “It has been a big benefit, I think, for me. All of the projects and being responsible, that will help me in the future with projects or life.”