‘You learn to manage your time.’ 4-H Mom Shawna Riffel
By GAIL PARSONS
As the summer months drag on, a common refrain from children, especially in the last few weeks before school starts is “I’m bored,” or “there’s nothing to do.” But for those children active in 4-H, it’s not likely their parents are hearing too much of that.
If anything, it can seem like there is too much to do and not enough time to do it.
“You learn to manage your time,” said Shawna Riffel who has three children that are all very active in the Navarre Booster 4-H Club. “And you learn that every minute counts.”
She and her husband, Laird, bring the children out to their grandmother’s farm every day so they can care for and tend to the animals they each show. Donna Riffel is glad to have the grandkids out because she knows the importance of keeping them active in 4-H. She was in 4-H in Lyon County in the 1940’s, and her mother was a member of one of the first 4-H clubs in Kansas in the early 1920s in Smith County.
“All of my kids were 4-Hers,” she said recently as Spencer, 11; Madi, 14; and Mackenzie, 17, headed out to take care of their sheep, swine, and cattle. “Kids with 4-H backgrounds tend to be organized and get along well. They learn values and learn about working together.”
Laird and Shawna don’t leave all the 4-H work to the kids. When Shawna says that 4-H is “family oriented,” she speaks from experience. She is a Navarre Booster organizational leader, 4-H Council advisor, 4-H Ambassador leader and co-leader in the leadership project. She serves on the county extension executive board and as secretary for the Dickinson County 4-H Foundation.
Laird is a meat goat superintendent at the fair, the Navarre Booster livestock project leader, and helps with the 4-H shooting sports project. He will generally go out and feed the animals in the morning before work, but the children are responsible for taking care of them in the evenings.
As fair week approaches, the hustling to get everything done picks up. Despite the work they have done during the year, there are many last minute preparations.
“They make all their own choices. It’s their decision what they want to try,” Shawna said.
In addition to market steer, market heifer, and breeding heifer projects, Madi is also planning on entering a coffee cake and a yeast bread in this year’s fair. During the year she is in the Ambassadors, the Interstate Exchange, and Leadership projects.
On Tuesday, she was also busy helping another 4-Her with her food entries. While she did that, Spencer worked on the final touches of the rocket he planned to enter. He’s hoping the third time will be the charm. The first rocket he made didn’t have the right parts.
“Another one disappeared in thin air,” he said. It went up, over 900 feet – but was never seen again. He’s hoping for success on the third attempt. He also is bringing snicker doodles, chocolate chip cookies and banana bread, market beef, swine, meat goats and one photograph.
He got a blue ribbon in the buymanship of the fashion revue and will do a target shoot to show what the shooting sports is about. He is also in archery, leadership, crafts but he didn’t get his project done in time this year. He is also in entomology, which he has a project started, but anticipates it will be another two or three years before it is ready for exhibiting at the fair.
All three of the Riffel children said if they were only allowed to have one project, it would be one of the livestock projects. Madi and Spencer both opted for market steer, while Mackenzie would stick with meat goats.