4-H State Days Demonstration Heads to Nationals in Wisconsin
After qualifying for the National Junior Horticulture event through PA 2012 4-H State Days, I had the honor and privilege to travel to Dells, Wisconsin for the demonstration category with my Small Scale Production demonstration. I was to represent PA 4-H for at this event held October 4- 8! My trip began with a 14 hour drive to Dells, Wisconsin the waterpark capital of the United States. My parents accompanied me on this adventure. I didn’t have any idea about what to expect, but I went excited and open-minded to enjoy every minute of this opportunity. For four weeks, I grew plants that I would need for my demonstration. These plants would have to safely survive the track with us half-way across the country. Believe me, I was a bit worried that they wouldn’t survive the long trip.
After arriving to the beautiful resort overlooking the mountains of Wisconsin, I checked into the event. We set-up our display representing PA 4-H then headed to the opening ceremonies and dinner. I met many great people from all over the United States, but I was the only Pennsylvania delegate. We began with a flag ceremony and a flag bearer from each state being represented and were then treated to a delicious meal followed by a master gardening speaker. Later, we met with the superintendent of each of the events to review what would be expected of us for the contests to take place the next day. I left that meeting excited to do my presentation the next morning. Did I mention that my plants survived the trip?
The next morning, we had a fantastic breakfast before heading to do my demonstration. I carried all of my supplies to the room and waited for my name to be called. When it was my turn, I set-up all of my supplies and tested my projector for the power point presentation and was soon instructed by the judge to begin. Shortly after beginning, a man came into the room and sat to listen to my presentation. When I was finished, that man turned out to be a 30 year veteran soils specialist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and he drilled me with a pile of questions that I was actually able to answer!
With my demonstration complete, it was time to breathe easy. So, since we were in Wisconsin, we headed to a cheese factory and a celebratory lunch. We returned to our resort and enjoyed several hours at the in house water park. The event then held a contest called horticulture connections which ran a bit like Jeopardy. I was added to the team from Indiana and we did well. The next day, we toured Dells Cranberry Museum, a cranberry farm, and rode on the Dells Ducks, a military style vehicle that operates in water and on land. We toured and shopped in downtown Dells then returned to the resort for a state social where I met a number of great people from all over the country.
The last day, we attended workshops and the awards banquet. I could hardly believe it, but I was awarded Grand National Champion for my demonstration! All of my practice and hard work paid off. I began my quest many years ago when I first started 4-H. I worked hard on several of the plant science projects that 4-H has to offer. After several years of learning and practicing the techniques I learned, I can say that my project came full circle by entering PA 4-H State Achievement Days and earning the privilege to attend nationals.
I really enjoyed the entire experience and would love to attend the event again next year as it will be held in Williamsburg, Virginia. If any of you are interested in putting together a horticulture team to try to earn the right to attend the event as a 4-H team, please let me know.