by Melissa Brunner
For the past several years, I've been honored to emcee the Shawnee County 4-H King and Queen recognition during the fair. It's always a fun time and a chance to see some of the very impressive young people we're blessed to have in our community. We've started a tradition in asking an "on-the-spot" question. I read the essays and resumes the teens submit for their king and queen applications, and use those to ask a question or two about their interests.
In terms of smart, talented teens, this year did not disappoint. I'm not sure how the judges (county commissioners Vic Miller and Ted Ensley and 13's own Amy Schmidt) decided on single winners, but they did.
The 4-H Queen is Blaire Landon. This young lady from the Paw Prints club is fluent in sign language. We rely on our hearing so much, but Blaire says the other senses are able to notice so much when the hearing is gone. And something I hadn't thought much about - spelling. We can often figure out how to spell a word by sounding it out. But if you've never heard the sounds of the letters, that approach doesn't work, so people who cannot hear have to work extra hard at basically memorizing the written words. Yet another reason to be inspired by how people who live with a hearing impairment are able to overcome and accomplish.
The 4-H King is Thomas Schulz. He's a nine-year member from the Riverside 4-H club. Thomas loves geology and can launch in to descriptions of how different all the various rocks around us. Rocks are not just something you put on your driveway, he says, they are the story of our earth. Thomas also says he loves to learn. What is the most important thing he's learned from 4-H? He says it's to get along with all sorts of people. I can tell that he does!
A special thanks to outgoing king and queen, Anna Wenner and Luke Garrison. They are fantastic young people with bright futures ahead. They were so gracious and did a wonderful job speaking in front of the large group of people. Best of luck to them!
If you're looking for a way to support the young people in our community, take a few minutes to visit your local county fair. Whether it's showing animals, baking a cake, displaying photos, sewing an outfit or any of countless other projects, you'll see young people who are learning to develop a skill, set a goal and see a project through to its completion. You'll see them work to better themselves from year to year. You'll see them reaching outside their comfort zone to meet new people and try new things. A lot of life lessons go into earning those ribbons!
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