County Fair opens todayWhen people go to the Clatsop County Fair, which opened today, many skip right over the exhibition halls.
They wander through the animal barns, but never really stop to consider what has gone into the care and maintenance of the animals or who the people are who do it.
Not Brittany Nyberg.
The 12-year-old Warrenton resident has worked months on her projects and the fair is her time for recognition. She's part of 4-H, a national organization established in 1902 in response to young people and their need for a better agricultural education. The organization gives youth the tools needed to "learn by doing," which helps them to develop life skills, self-confidence and a greater understanding of their own potential.
Adults help the youth to start and complete projects and show them during fairs and other expositions.
Brittany's mother, Lisa Nyberg of Warrenton, grandmother Sharon Tuveng and great-grandmother Hazel Rogers, both of Olney, have all been involved in 4-H. They are a four-generation 4-H family - and they would not have it any other way.
Four-H has brought them all self-assurance and knowledge and has brought them all together.
Brittany is raising two pigs, two sheep and a cow and calf as her projects for the fair. Her responsibilities are critical to the well-being of the animals and include feeding, grooming and cleaning up after them. She also has to monitor their eating, rotate them outside and in different pens and make sure they are healthy.
When she isn't doing that, Hazel, Sharon and Lisa all help her learn to cook, sew and can. She's also preparing for a new contest, table settings, and is thinking about what sort of outfit to buy for the Fashion Revue contest.
"She's a busy girl," says her mother, Lisa. But in truth, they're all busy. They all help Brittany as she prepares for the Clatsop County Fair, and on top of that Sharon and Lisa serve as 4-H leaders: helping other kids prepare.
Helping othersHazel got started in 4-H as a young mother, hoping to keep her children busy during the summer. The projects and activities were addictive, and she and her daughter Sharon kept involved through the years. She was a leader for 32 years, and passed the torch on to her daughter.
Sharon has been a leader for 38 years in livestock, cooking and canning. She has served two terms (about eight years) on the Clatsop County Fair Board, during which she helped to make decisions about running the fair. Sharon served on the State Fair Association for three years - all this in addition to the 10 years she spent as a 4-H'er.
Lisa, Sharon's daughter, started in 4-H when she was nine. Like her daughter Brittany, Lisa started with pigs and sheep and slowly began working with other animals, and then she started to do everything - horticulture, sewing and cooking.
Lisa eventually got her husband involved in 4-H and when she had her own children, there was no other alternative. They would be 4-H kids.
"Everybody's involved," Lisa said. "Once you've been involved you like to give back to the kids."
Working togetherThe kids they work with are an important part of 4-H in Hazel, Sharon and Lisa's opinions, but the most important thing is that the parents have to work with the children.
"Family involvement is the key to the whole thing," Hazel said. "On a farm there is a lot of knowledge that parents need to pass on to their kids." As well as farm knowledge, the youth learn valuable life lessons such as respecting authority figures, responsibility for living creatures, cooking, and working within a budget.
Brittany has her own checkbook that she has to keep balanced. She also has to buy all her 4-H related goods. She purchased her livestock and buys the feed, which helps her to see where her money goes. Her mother and grandmother also did this, and saved the money they earned from the sale of the livestock.
That money put them through college, and they are hoping that it will do the same for Brittany.
Mostly though, they are hoping that Brittany's childhood has been bettered because of 4-H, and they all value the time they get to spend with her, and are happy to be a part of her success.
"You can't replace those memories," Sharon said. "It's a part of you that you can't put aside, and there are bonds that can't be broken."