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Wentz cousins continue strong family 4-H tradition

3/24/2013

By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN

By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN

dobrien@dailynews.net

The topic of his speech was "Success."

Wyatt Wentz would be the first to tell you success doesn't always mean winning the top prize at some competition.

Nonetheless, that's what the 17-year-old Norton County 4-H'er was awarded for his public speaking talk at Friday evening's Regional 4-H Day at Hays High School.

Wyatt and four other members of his family -- two younger brothers and two first cousins -- participated in numerous other events Friday after being selected as the top performers from the Norton County 4-H Day earlier this winter.

There were no other top blue awards won by fellow Norton County 4-H'ers, but that doesn't mean the trip to Hays wasn't a success, Wyatt said.

He paused when asked what he has learned from his 10-plus years of participating in 4-H, something his parents, and both sets of grandparents, did before him.

His hesitation wasn't because he couldn't think of anything. He just didn't know where to start naming skills he's learned during the years.

"Communication, leadership, responsibility," Wyatt said. "There are so many things I've learned being in 4-H, but those are probably the top three."

The Wentz cousins, whose fathers Galen and Darren are brothers, were two of several families that scurried from room to room and hallway to hallway, trying to make it to all their events. The Wentzes no doubt were the busiest, with performances in nine events, including seven in a row at 10-minute intervals from 5:50 to 6:50 p.m.

Both of Wyatt's younger brothers, Quentin and Bryndon, as well as first cousins Rebecca and Amy Wentz, are officers for the Prairie Dog 4-H Club, which participated in the model meeting competition. And like Wyatt, Rebecca and Amy each qualified for regionals in two individual events. Bryndon qualified for one.

Wyatt's mom, Jamie Wentz, said participation is the name of the game, a lesson well-learned from her parents, Jim and Regina Stark, who served as club leaders while she was growing up.

"The sooner you get kids talking in front of people, the easier it is as they go into high school and later in life," Jamie Wentz said.

That practice recently paid off for Wyatt, a senior at Norton Community High School who plans to attend Kansas State University next year. He had taken a test in the fall as part of an application for the annual Dane G. Hansen Scholarship Program for graduating seniors in north central and northwest Kansas. He learned this winter he was being called back for an interview to receive one of the scholarships.

"I told him, 'You've been practicing this forever,' " Jamie Wentz said. "It really prepares them for -- well, life."

Following the Dane Hansen interviews, Wyatt received in the mail a letter informing him he was one of 50 students to receive the $4,000 Leader of Tomorrow scholarship, renewable for one additional year.

No one would argue that's success.