By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN
In search of a program that would enhance her children's social skills and community involvement, Cynthia Gaschler ran across the Bits 'N Spurs 4-H Club last year.
"We live on a farm," she said of her husband, Mike Gaschler, and their three children, who she home-schools. "So I wanted to find something they could participate in with others their age. They learn so much from other children."
On Sunday, they said they not only learned from participating in front of a judge, but also by watching their fellow 4-H members succeed.
Bits 'N Spurs members earned seven regional-qualifying berths from Sunday's annual Ellis County 4-H Day at Victoria Elementary School. That was the most of any of the seven clubs participating.
In her first year in 4-H, the oldest Gaschler sibling, 9-year-old Eva, earned alternate regional blue honors for her project talk.
Her younger brothers, 7-year-old twins Eric and Ethan, participated in the show-and-tell division as Cloverbuds, a program for those not yet old enough to participate in official 4-H events.
"I think it's great," their mother said of the Cloverbud program. "It takes a lot of pressure off and lets it feel like they accomplish something."
The Gaschlers deemed their first 4-H Day a huge success, as did another young Bits 'N Spurs family also participating in 4-H Day for the first time.
Ten-year-old Cadence Dickey from Munjor qualified for Regional 4-H Day on March 28 in WaKeeney with her project talk and also earned an alternate regional award for her dance.
Coincidentally, similar to Eva Gaschler, Dickey also has a pair of younger twin siblings. In their first attempt of talking in front of a judge, 8-year-old Colton and Callie Lane also fared quite well, receiving blue ribbons for their project talks. And Callie also received a blue for her dance number.
"I just wanted them to get some experience; that's how they learn," said their mother, Chelsea Dickey.
"We have been in 4-H for a few years but had never done 4-H Day. So this was all new to us. I sure don't expect them to go out and get blues all the time. So this being their first time, and doing so well, I sure was proud of them."
The Gaschlers live on a farm between Ellis and Palco. Mike Gaschler, a native of Ellis County, was involved in FFA but wasn't in 4-H, and his wife participated in Pony Club while growing up in Tennessee, a horse-related club.
"We have horses, and Eva was wanting to show and ride," Cynthia Gaschler said. "So when we found (Bits 'N Spurs), we thought it was perfect. They can participate at so many different levels."
One 4-H'er who has seen a lot of participating and succeeding at several levels through the years had another banner day Sunday.
Elizabeth Smith Moore of the Gemini Juniors Club, a 2013 graduate of Hays High School and in her final year of 4-H, won top blue honors in three different events in the senior division -- readings, demonstrations/illustrated talks and vocal solo.
Two double winners of the day coincidentally also are members of Gemini Juniors, as Dustin Rajewski, 10, earned regional blue honors in both the readings and demonstrations/illustrated talk categories. So, too, did Emma Pope, 12, in demonstrations/illustrated talks and for her instrumental piano solo.