STAFFORD — Before the Stafford County Fair last week, dozens of 4-Hers gathered at the Stafford County Fairgrounds to clean-up and set up. The youths involved did everything from cleaning display cases in the exhibition hall to setting up the livestock barns at St. John.

At clean-up day Thursday, 4-Her Ryer Ward said his favorite project was bucket calves, and he has learned how to work hard in taking care of his animals. Fifth-year participant in the goat project Cody Newdigger said he has had to learn how to raise his goats and continuously be responsible for them. Weston Peterson’s favorite project was the beef project, and he said he learned patience.

“Animals don’t always do what you want,” Peterson said.

The young group of boys spent time filling holes in the livestock arena and talking about their 4-H experiences. All agreed that the most valuable life skills they have gained from 4-H are leadership and loyalty. They are always being challenged to lead the younger 4-H members, and they have to be loyal to their animals to gain trust, and they understand the value of hard work in today’s society.

Sisters Rose and Amy Dean, both second-year 4-Hers, said their favorite parts of 4-H were the individualized projects. While cleaning picnic tables at the fairgrounds, Rose, the older of the two, said her favorite project was the pigeon one.

“I’ve wanted to do this for a long time,” she said.

The pigeon project consists of taking care of, training, and showing the pigeons in front of a judge. This year, she said she can command her pigeon to open its wings, and next year she wants to have her pigeon trained to "fly home," allowing her to let her pigeon outside and command it to come home.

Both Dean girls said they have learned how to speak at 4-H events, such as 4-H meetings.

“Before, I didn’t talk in public,” Amy said.

They both enjoy 4-H because of the projects and lessons they are learning.

“I’m glad I’m in 4-H,” Rose said.

The Stafford County Fair was July 17-20. Many other county fairs in Kansas are taking place in the last few weeks of July and first weeks of August.