4-H projects take top honors | SteamboatToday.com

4-H projects take top honors

Tamera Manzanares

Routt County 4-H students earned top honors at the Colorado State Fair for exhibit projects they first presented to judges at Soroco High School earlier this month.

Nearly all of the 75 projects the organization sent to the Pueblo fair have been decorated with ribbons.

“I can’t even remember having that amount of success down there,” Routt County extension agent Debbie Alpe said.

Students ranging in age from 8 to 18 showed judges more than 250 diverse projects during 4-H Exhibit Day on Aug. 7. The projects fell under more than 20 categories such as cake decorating, natural resources, photography and clothing construction.

Judges evaluating the projects, which were broken down into units within each category, looked for students’ depth of experience including how they overcame challenges, their presentation and how much they enjoyed the project.

Most top placers in each age group — juniors, intermediates and seniors — chose to send their winning entries to the state fair, though none of the students was able to make the trip to Pueblo for the event because it coincided with the Junior Livestock Sale Aug. 21, Alpe said.

About 72 Routt County 4-H projects placed in the top 10 of their respective age and project units, and 15 students were named champions. Of those, four achieved grand champion honors for their age groups in overall categories.

“I think it just speaks to the quality of our leaders and the commitment of the families and the kids,” Alpe said.

Calla Manzanares, 12, of Hayden was named junior grand champion in the leather crafts category for her braided Latigo leather dog leash.

“I found out at my best friend’s house while we were on the computer,” she said. “It was really fun to find out that way.”

There can be as many as 25 to 30 entries in the leather crafts units, which is among the most popular, Alpe said.

This is the fourth year Calla made a leather project, but instead of using stamping or carving, she wanted to try braiding, something her father, 4-H leader Ray Manzanares, is good at, she said.

The dog leash idea came from dog sitting this summer, Calla added.

With 20 more projects than usual competing at the state level, exhibit projects have become more popular among 4-H students in Routt County, Alpe said.

Overall, she attributes students’ enthusiasm and achievements in the 4-H program to a supportive network of families and leaders.

She estimated this year’s program had 250 students guided by 90 leaders, including parents and grandparents.

“We really have fun with the kids, and I think that’s the key to our success in Routt County,” she said.

With the Routt County Fair over, about 30 4-H students will be heading to Pueblo this weekend and next weekend to compete in the shooting sports competition, which typically attracts more than 1,200 participants, Alpe said.

— To reach Tamera Manzanares call 871-4204 or e-mail tmanzanares@steamboatpilot.com

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