Eight 4-H members represented Teton County July 10-13 at Montana 4-H Congress on the MSU campus in Bozeman. The theme was Blast Off – Launching Ideas into Action.  The

Daniel Asselstine, Hannah Antonsen and Watson Snyder were among the Teton County 4-H members to take home top awards and/or scholarships from the 2018 Montana 4-H Congress (Photo: Jane Wollery, MSU Extension, Teton Co)

Teton County 4-H delegation not only launched, but landed well in competitions.  Daniel Asselstine competed in the Career Communications event.  He placed in the top four and was called back for finals where he finished with the top spot.  The first-place winner generally receives a trip to National 4-H Congress, but since Daniel previously attended due to a win last year at Montana 4-H Congress, the opportunity will pass to another 4-H member.  Asselstine was a strong competitor, building on the Teton County success of from the 2017 state competition when Hannah Konen placed first and Caroline Roeder placed second.

Hanna Antonsen competed in the Stir-Ups competition, a cooking competition where contestants are scored on their ability to plan, prepare and present a meal.  Antonsen has been actively involved in the foods and nutrition area.  In May, she submitted a state award application that highlighted her project work, community service, leadership and growth in foods and nutrition.  During the final banquet, Antonsen learned that she was among a very select group of 4-H members who won Montana 4-H State Awards.  Antonsen will travel to National 4-H Congress in Atlanta, Georgia in November 2018.

Delaynie Beadle also submitted a state award application in May, which highlighted her most recent three years of work in the sewing and textile area.  The application also include a 4-H story and creative project.  Beadle’s creative work wove together her sewing projects, 4-H demonstrations and described the fifth H – heritage.  Beadle was at a volleyball camp in Utah during Montana 4-H Congress, but with technology, her 4-H friends and coaches managed to surprise her as her name was announced as a Montana 4-H State Award winner.  Antonsen and Beadle are among a select five members receiving the honor.

Elyssa Willekes' winning quilt earned her a trip to the National 4-H Congress. (Photo: MSU Extension, Teton Co.)

Sisters Elyssa and Janessa Willekes competed for the first time at Montana 4-H Congress in the Quilt Contest.  The participants are judged not only on their quilting skills and knowledge, but also on their presentation skills.  Both did quite well, with Elyssa placing second overall.  Because the first-place participant had already won a trip to National Congress through a state award, Elyssa Willekes will join Antonsen and Beadle at National 4-H Congress this fall.  Willekes carries on a family tradition, as her older sister, Ali won the quilt contest a few years ago.  Strong 4-H traditions were evident as the first and second place quilt participants worked with mother and daughter instructors, Deanna Burgmaier and Shawna (Burgmaier) Crawford. The Willekes family also relies on 4-H leader Cathy Maurer. Teton County will have a strong presence with three of the sixteen youth representing Montana 4-H.

Watson Snyder enjoyed his fourth year at Montana 4-H Congress, having previously served as the Montana 4-H Ambassador president.  Snyder competed in livestock evaluation.  During the Montana 4-H Congress banquet, he was recognized as the recipient of the Cedric and Elfriede Maurer Scholarship.  Bruce and Cathy Maurer attended the event to give the award.  Snyder will attend MSU Bozeman in the fall.

Joining Snyder in the livestock evaluation event was Caroline Roeder.  Livestock evaluation includes placing several classes such as swine, goats, cattle, sheep and wool, as well as giving oral reasons.  4-H members not only compete, but also take part in leadership activities and classes.  Roeder attended Biotechnology:  The Case of Plant Viruses and Noxious Weeds 101.

Rounding out the “great eight” as MSU Extension Agents Brent Roeder and Jane Wolery called their delegates were Sareena Murnane and Hannah Konen.  It was Murnane’s first year as a participant.  Teton County no longer requires first-time attendees to compete.  During competitions, Murnane attended an in-depth session with Kyle Scheele, who had been the opening speaker.  Scheele combines his life experiences with a stand-up comedy style to deliver an impactful message about how we treat others, bullying and what a difference one person can make.  Konen, who has not only attended, but dominated at Montana 4-H Congress placing first in both the sewing and career communications areas, opted to take a seat on the other side of the table this year.  Konen judged preliminary and finals rounds for demonstration and illustrated talks.

During Congress the 4-H members participated in a service project collecting Books for Africa.  Delegations brought books and during Congress they prepared them for shipment.  Books that did not meet the criteria for the program will be redistributed to programs within Montana.  Continuing with a global perspective, many Teton County youth met the IPYA students – International Program for Young Adults.  The IPYA program (formerly IFYE) celebrated 75 years with special presentations from 4-H and IPYA alum. The classes Teton County 4-H members took ranged from traditional Native American Games to Entrepreneurship to Conversations that Could Save Lives.  Twelve different classes were selected by Teton County youth. While each relayed something of importance from their classes, Murnane captured information from the class she attended on mental health for the group.  She encouraged them to check in on the people around them, and if they notice something, to be direct and have the difficult conversations relating to suicide and depression.  She said, “Just ask, ‘Are you thinking about ending your life?’” The class she attended reviewed QPR – Question, Persuade and Respond.  Murnane and Wolery both attended the session and brought home several booklets and resources which are available from MSU Extension in Teton County.

4-H is part of the answer to building resilient youth who are competent and contributing community members.  Congratulations to those who excelled in their chosen area of competition and kudos to those first-year attendees who launched out of their comfort zone and blasted into the growth zone during Montana 4-H Congress.

By Jane Wolery, MSU Extension Teton Co Agent