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Gove Co. 4-Her's photo still flying high

9/11/2013

By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN

By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN

dobrien@dailynews.net

HUTCHINSON -- Matt Wertz is too busy with school activities at Quinter High School to attend the Kansas State Fair this year.

But he still is helping put Gove County on the map.

Wertz's photo of a hot air balloon taken in October at the International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, N.M., received several awards at the fair.

Not only did the photo he took as a 16-year-old win the top award for 4-H'ers, a purple ribbon, but it also was one picked to go on for further display throughout the year, such as in calendars and publications.

Best of all, his balloon picture also was one of the top projects selected for display either in legislative offices in Washington or at Kansas State University.

Wertz's colorful photo will hang in the office of Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., in Washington for the next year.

"My mom told me someone from our Extension office had called her, telling us (about the recognitions)," Wertz said. "I was surprised."

Wertz, a junior at QHS and the oldest of seven siblings ages 8 to 17, is involved in football, basketball and track along with family activities.

But he still finds time to participate in 4-H, where his other projects along with photography are swine and woodworking.

Wertz is relatively new to 4-H, having joined in junior high.

"Some of my friends were in 4-H," he said, "and my parents thought it would be good to join to learn more about agribusiness."

The Wertzes also are learning their oldest son also has a knack for photography.

"When he was making the decision which one to take" to this summer's Gove County Fair, "I told him, 'I don't know if I like that as well as some of the others,' " said his dad, Brad Wertz. "But that one has done really well. He had a good eye for it, I guess."

The photo, which received a purple ribbon at the county fair to advance to state, is one of numerous 4-H projects from northwest Kansas 4-H'ers on display on the fairgrounds in Centennial Hall, where the photos grab a visitor's eye, hanging in the center aisle.

Besides legislative and K-State offices, several photos also are chosen to go on display at Rock Springs 4-H Center near Junction City for the coming year and to be used for 4-H judging contests around the state.

"These are all great opportunities for their projects to go on display further," said Rob Buchele, the southwest Kansas area specialist out of Garden City who serves as the state 4-H photography liaison.