Two Crook County 4-H youth travel to Western National Roundup in Denver and bring home second-place ribbons

 - Four Oregon 4-H members qualified to compete at the Family Consumer and Sciences Classic at the Western National Roundup in Denver, Colorado, last month. The Oregon Team from left to right, Eirlan Haney, Caitlin McCabe, Grace Wallinger and Ashlyn Hacker, included two from Crook County.

What is a strong, colorless gas?

Name four things to consider when choosing a checking account.

Which of these four yogurts is the most nutritious?

These are the types of questions two Crook County 4-H members had to answer during the Family Consumer and Sciences Classic at the Western National Roundup in Denver, Colorado, last month.

"The Western National Roundup provides an opportunity for youth to compete against each other on a national level," explained Reaza Mansur, the local 4-H Family and Consumer Sciences coach.

More than 1,000 youth from all over the United States and parts of Canada attended the Jan. 4-7 Western National Roundup, participating in more than a dozen contests, and Ashlyn Hacker and Eirlan Haney were among them.

This was the first year for Oregon 4-H to offer the FCS Skill-a-Thon at county and state levels.

"Since I am in sewing and have been for the past four years, as soon as I heard about it and what was involved, I was very excited and eager to give it a shot," Haney said. "I honestly never thought I would be selected to be a part of Oregon's first FCS Nationals Team. I have always wanted to do big things, and I was thrilled that I was presented with this amazing opportunity."

The conference, in its 98th year, is held annually in early January, coinciding with the National Western Stock Show. Both 4-H and Future Farmers of America members between the ages of 14 and 19 qualify for the Roundup by winning their home state's contest or being chosen as a state delegate.

The competitions include livestock judging, quiz bowls, public speaking, parliamentary procedure, consumer decision making, meats identification and more. Workshop topics range from fitness and nutrition, to communication and team building, to dance and leadership development.

Hacker, a junior at Crook County High School, is in her eighth year of Crook County 4-H. She is in small animal, food, leadership and Youth Advocates for Health 4-H clubs. She's thinking of a career in food or ag sciences and plans to attend COCC and Oregon State.

Haney, a junior who is homeschooled, has been in 4-H for five years, and her projects have included horse, sewing, rabbit, dog and art.

The two competed in contests at the county and state levels, qualifying to be part of the Oregon team to go to the national contest.

"I really enjoyed doing it at the county and state level. I thought it was really fun, and it's also something that I'm not going to get to participate in again," Hacker said. "It would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience."

Two youth from Clackamas County, Caitlin McCabe and Grace Wallinger, completed their four-member Oregon team. The local coach also went along.

The girls had three months to learn about Family and Consumer Sciences, which includes cooking, sewing and home environment. Mansur met with the local girls once a week last fall to prepare for nationals.

They raised $3,000 by having can drives and collecting donations.

They flew to Denver Thursday, Jan. 4. The Oregon team competed in two contests during the Family and Consumer Sciences Classic on Friday. The following day, they went to the National Western Stock Show, and they flew home on Sunday, Jan. 7.

The FCS Bowl is similar to Jeopardy with double elimination. Two teams played against each other by answering questions on everything from cooking utensils and sewing items to cleaning solutions, toys, bikes, internet safety and banking. They earned second place out of five teams.

Next, they competed in an FCS Skill-a-Thon, where they had to identify cooking utensils and supplies, spices, sewing items, materials, parts of the sewing machine, carpets and flooring, painting techniques, windows, moldings, tools and window treatments.

They were then given a situation concerning food that they then put in order from the item that best fits the answer to the least. The last part was a team presentation. They had 10 minutes to prepare a speech about garage sales and then present it.

The Oregon team got second place out of five in the Skill-a-Thon.

"I love to compete. Friendly competition is always a fun, challenging experience, and I really enjoy it," Haney said. "Competitions should give you 'butterflies' in your stomach, but by the end when all is done, no matter what your score, you should look back and think about how much fun you had, what you learned, and be looking forward to the next time!"

The girls met kids from all over the U.S. and Canada, took classes, attended two dances, swapped pins, and toured downtown Denver and the Union Station.

Mansur said the 4-H students learned several life skills such as public speaking, working with other people, rooming with people they hardly knew, and how to use public transportation.

"We had to work together as a group for a group presentation and the bowl, so it was a good experience for me to learn how to work with other people that I'd only known for a short amount of time," Hacker said. "It was a really good experience, and I encourage others to try and compete in contests just like it."

Haney said going to nationals was a very positive experience.

"I had fun, I met new friends, I learned new social skills, as well as more about my contests, and my fellow teammates, who I am keeping in touch with, and we are planning on getting together again," she said.

Mansur thanked the community for their help and support of the girls.

"I am so proud of both of them and how hard they worked."

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