ALEXANDRIA — To an unknowing onlooker, the Madison County 4-H Fair may seem little more than a look at farm life.
To some spectators, the fair offers little more than pigs and rabbits, and a few crafts on the side. But to veteran 4-H’ers, the fair and all the preparation leading up to it are all about learning valuable lessons.
“Through 4-H I have made friendships, come out of my shell, and become more outgoing,” 4-H’er Courtney Pape said. “I have learned responsibility. You have to get stuff done on time and do things the right way. You learn skills that you’ll use all the way down the road in college.”
The fair begins today at the fairgrounds at Beulah Park in Alexandria and runs through July 27. The fair and other activities teach 4-H’ers lessons they carry for life.
Courtney, 16, has been in the Madison County Rabbit Club and Creation Club for eight years and did Mini 4-H for one year. Kids can enter 4-H in first grade and participate in the Mini 4-H group for two years before entering regular 4-H as a third-grader.
4-H has become a family affair for the Papes who knew nothing about the nationwide organization until they saw a sign-up sheet in the library.
“As a parent it’s an opportunity to get my kids involved in something where they present themselves in front of other people,” Rob Pape said. “We have five children, three of them are in 4-H. It’s kind of like a curriculum you are using to teach your children.”
Courtney’s younger sister, Mikayla, has been in regular 4-H for two years now, and has already immersed herself in 4-H. She always enjoys her projects, but this year she has particular reason to be proud.