By Kerry Drager, Correspondent
There are many avenues that youths can pursue in the 4-H program. From farming to science experiments, the possibilities seem limitless. For siblings Ben and Anna Blonigen of Elmdale, the alternative programs available to them through 4-H have led to some enjoyable projects and even earned them some well-deserved recognition at the Morrison County Fair.
Ben and Anna’s mother, Kathy, has kept her children involved in the program. She is happy with the progress her kids have made in their personal growth since joining 4-H.
“The project areas are endless. 4-H is not just a farm thing anymore. If you have something you want to take to the fair but you can’t fit it into one of the program slots, 4-H has a miscellaneous slot you can put it in,” said Kathy.
The Blonigen children have won several ribbons at the Morrison County Fair. With so many opportunities and programs to explore, the kids have found their niche. They have been working on perfecting their projects of choice and have been recognized for their hard work.
Ben enjoys gardening, and he has won grand champion two separate years at the County Fair for his potatoes, earning him a chance to compete at the State Fair. While at state, he has won reserved and fourth place.
“They are judging you on half display and half knowledge. I’ve been helping out with the garden since I was very small. My dad is a big garden guy, I got a lot of knowledge from watching him,” said Ben.
Gardening has also gained Anna’s interest. Her care and dedication to her flowers have won her both grand champion and reserved grand champion at the County Fair. She is also partial to needlework and has won a blue ribbon on her crochet project.
“I really like to do needle arts. Last year, I did a teddy bear. His name is ‘Ted.’ This year I am trying to do a horse,” said Anna.
They may not have had the opportunity to explore gardening and needlework if it weren’t for the family’s efforts to save their chapter from disbanding.
When Ben started 4-H he was in the third grade and had participated for just one year when the news came that their chapter was going to have to disband due to lack of participants. Having enjoyed his time as a Clover Bud, Ben and his mother decided that they would find new recruits and save their chapter.
“We had a discussion in the van that day. Do we quit or try to keep it going? Ben said that this was our club, and we should try to save it. So off we went and started recruiting families. Last fall we celebrated 56 years. We are one of the oldest clubs in the country,” said Kathy.
Saving their club has offered Ben and Anna an opportunity to experience the many joys that 4-H can offer a child.
“It’s hard to come up with just one thing to like about 4-H,” said Ben. “I’d tell someone that we do the county fair and that’s fun. There is also camp. We spend three days at the Northern Pines Campground in Park Rapids. There are many things you can do in 4-H.”
The program not only offers summer camps and endless fun, it also teaches children to be responsible and to find enjoyment in activities that require focus and dedication.
“I really like the Fair because I get to do projects and helping at the food stand,” said Anna. “People don’t like working at the stand, but I kind of like working it. It is just something different to do that I don’t do normally.”
Both Ben and Anna have taken part in helping 4-H be a successful program in the area. Ben has played the role of secretary in his club and has been voted in as president of the federation. Anna spent last year as their club’s reporter.
These hardworking kids feel like they have learned a great deal of responsibility from their positions in 4-H and are willing to help out their club whenever possible.
When it comes to being successful in a program like 4-H, it isn’t only about having the best in the region. Success is often found by being a supportive, active member of the club.