Family that herds together, stays together

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Farm Forum

The Burleigh County 4-H Club showcased its discipline and hard work at the annual 4-H Achievement Day. The 4-Hers presented their sheep, pigs, horses, cattle, small animals and static displays in hopes of earning a blue ribbon and a chance to compete at the North Dakota State Fair.

“Achievement Day is the celebration of everything they have done throughout the year,” said Amelia Doll, 4-H youth development extension agent. “Getting a blue ribbon is very gratifying, because they know their hard work and dedication finally paid off.”

The Filipek family, of McClusky, have been preparing and raising live stock year around for the opportunity to compete at the North Dakota State Fair. The four Filipek girls are no strangers to the competition. Taylor Filipek, 18, is the oldest and has been involved since she was 8 years old.

Taylor showcased her market ewe and won a blue ribbon and the privilege to present the animal at the state fair. She was also scheduled to present a breeding heifer and a market steer for the beef showdown. This is Taylor’s last summer with the 4-H club before she heads to college in the fall.

“I enjoyed my experience with 4-H,” said Taylor, looking back at her decade of 4-H experience. “I liked meeting new people, traveling to the different shows, having the experience to teach the young ones.”

Taylor has been passing on her knowledge to her youngest sister, Macey, 9. Macey just graduated from the Cloverbud program, the youngest level of 4-H’er focused on skill development, and it was her first judged competition.

“We always start the young ones off with sheep first, then build them up to larger animals,” Taylor said. “She caught on very well. She is up and at it every morning, getting us up and excited to go on day to day.”

“I have been in 4-H for two years. I enjoy showing my animal and competing against other people,” Macey said. “My sisters give me advice on how my animal acted and tell me to always face the judge when he is in front of me.”

The competition was not only in the ring. Haley Filipek, 16, was able to share some perspective on being in a 4-H family.

“It’s challenging, because they don’t listen to your advice that you try to give them, and they just do their own little thing,” Haley said. “It can get really competitive, especially with my little sister, because we both raise ewes so we are always in the same class.”

At the end of the sheep showing, all the Filipek girls walked away with blue ribbons and were ready to keep competing. After the sheep, the girls racked up more ribbons with their cattle.

“It teaches them responsibility, it gets them out of bed in the morning and gives them something to do. Instead of watching TV, they get outside and work toward something,” Clint Filipek, the girls’ father, said. “They figured out if they want to win, they have to work at it.”

The Burleigh County 4-H Club, which has more than 240 members, works with youth to make better citizens and rounded individuals by focusing on learn-by-doing, citizenship and accountability.

“I am really glad to see so many youth out here today participating, and it just means so much to see the youth engaged in animals agriculture. They are the future of our animal and livestock industry,” said Ashley Stegeman, an agriculture and natural resource extension agent. “There are so many valuable lessons that youth will learn from having to care for an animal.”

For more information, go to www.ag.ndsu.edu/burleighcountyextension/4h-and-youth.