Five Clackamas County 4-H youth have earned the right to attend the national competition Nov. 5-7 in Louisville, Kentucky, and they're busy raising funds to make it happen.
Four of the youth, hailing from various 4-H chapters around the county, qualified as a team for the Horse Bowl, a quiz-type event on all things horses.
Those team members, coached by Carol Bridges, are Theo Nunn from Molalla, Joie Ellington from Oregon City, Jasmine Fairchild from Estacada and second-time national contender Kaydilayne Weikel from Oregon City.
The Horse Bowl team members competed in the county and state competitions virtually and will compete in-person at the national competition, officially called the Eastern National 4-H Roundup.
"I am so proud of this team, how the four youth have worked together and supported each other while studying for the competition and raising funds for the trip," Bridges said.
One more Clackamas County 4-H member, Carly Shanklin of Wilsonville, qualified for individual presentation, a speaking event. Her coach is Jaime Hudson.
"I am most excited to travel to Kentucky for my last year in 4-H and compete alongside some of the best presenters in the country," Shanklin said. "I am very proud of how far I have come as a presenter. I have won champion at the state level competition for the past six years and qualified for nationals three years in a row."
Hudson said she has been coaching Shanklin for eight years.
"To see her from the starting point to where she is now, she gives me goose bumps when she gives her speeches," Hudson said.
All five national qualifiers also qualified in 2020, but the event was canceled due to the COVID-19 crisis.
"I feel so amazed and accomplished to have competed with this team and qualify for two years in a row," Ellington said. "Although we weren't able to go the first time due to COVID-19, I am so glad we all get the chance to go this year."
Fairchild commented on the benefits of being in 4-H.
"4-H has taught me so much over the years, like if I put my mind to something, I can accomplish it — like going to nationals," Fairchild said.
The trip to nationals also will include some educational opportunities for the 4-H members like touring several equine facilities, the Kentucky Horse Park, breeding farms, Churchill Downs, Keeneland's race course and sales barn, Old Friends Equine (a retirement farm for race horses) and watching an international jumping show.
"I am very excited for the trip," Nunn said. "The part I'm most excited for is going to Churchill Downs."
The youth are continuing to raise funds through October. They are creating a poster to place around Clackamas County and are accepting business sponsorships at $100 for a business card-size ad on the poster. The group also is accepting donations in any amount.
Ellington said she'd like to offer a "huge thank you" to coaches Bridges and Hudson, parents and volunteers in Clackamas County 4-H.
"Without all of them, none of us would even dream about having this amazing chance to make our dreams a reality," Ellington said.
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