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4-H coordinator ready for Crow Wing County Fair

The Crow Wing County Fair is here and is a great place for people to check out what the 4-H program is all about. Courtney Johnson, 4-H program coordinator for Crow Wing County with the University of Minnesota Extension office, was busy Monday ge...

Courtney Johnson, 4-H program coordinator for Crow Wing County with the University of Minnesota Extension office, smiles Monday as she was getting things ready in the 4-H building for this week's Crow Wing County Fair in Brainerd. (Steve Kohls)
Courtney Johnson, 4-H program coordinator for Crow Wing County with the University of Minnesota Extension office, smiles Monday as she was getting things ready in the 4-H building for this week's Crow Wing County Fair in Brainerd. (Steve Kohls)

The Crow Wing County Fair is here and is a great place for people to check out what the 4-H program is all about.

Courtney Johnson, 4-H program coordinator for Crow Wing County with the University of Minnesota Extension office, was busy Monday getting things ready in the 4-H building at the county fairgrounds off 13th Street Southeast in Brainerd. Judging took place Monday for several categories, including the fine arts, youth arts, non-livestock and the flowers, vegetables and grains. The Crow Wing County Fair opens today, Aug. 4, and runs through Saturday.

This will be Johnson's second year coordinating the 4-H program for the fair, as she started her position June 3, 2014.

"I want people to come out to the fair and meet with some of our 4-H kids," Johnson said. "Come see what 4-H is all about. 4-H is what you put into it. It's the best kept secret."

There are 310 youth in kindergarten through 12th grade in the county's 4-H program and a majority of the youth are middle-school age, grades sixth through eighth. There are 90 adult volunteers.

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Johnson graduated from Hill City High School in 2010, earned her associates of arts degree from Itasca Community College and received her bachelor's degree in agriculture communication from North Dakota State University.

Johnson's interest in working with 4-H began in high school. Johnson, who joined 4-H in fifth grade, said when she was a junior she was showing two Red Angus cattle at a county fair. She said a middle-aged woman came up to her in the cattle barn and asked her how many horses were in the barn. Johnson explained to her that the horse barn was across the road. The woman looked confused and again asked Johnson about horses. Johnson said it was then she realized the woman thought the cattle were the horses.

"I told the woman these are cattle, not horses, and it was at that time that I wanted to educate people of all levels about 4-H," Johnson said.

Johnson said her father has a small commercial cattle farm and she helped out. When Johnson was in 4-H she showed her own cattle, as well as her science teacher's animals. Johnson said she learned a lot about money and time management, about the agricultural business in general and teamwork.

"You don't want to wait until the day before (the fair) to wash your cow," Johnson said with a smile.

Johnson said the skills she learned in 4-H have helped her in assisting the youth in 4-H today. She said her age also is helpful as she is 23 and it wasn't so long ago she was showing her cattle at fairs.

Johnson said 4-H provides and manages positive experiences for youth in Crow Wing County and offers several programs and opportunities. 4-H programs include shooting sports/wildlife, performing arts, livestock and youth leadership. Johnson said within the program there are other opportunities for youth. In the performing arts program, youth may participate in the Share the Fun and Arts In programs.

Youths involved in Arts In will perform a skit during the county fair at 7 p.m. Tuesday (Aug. 4), Wednesday and Friday in the 4-H building.

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Johnson said 4-H is busy all year. In the winter and spring, youth can participate in a program called Project Bowl, which is similar to Knowledge Bowl. Project Bowl focuses on topics, such as livestock, wildlife, dogs and horses.

"The most challenging part of my job is trying to get it all in," Johnson said of all the 4-H activities. "We try to impact as many youth as possible.

"The best part of my job is watching youth when they get a blue ribbon or get something and the light bulb goes on. That is something."

JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at jennifer.stockinger@brainerddispatch.com or 218-855-5851. Follow me at www.twitter.com/jennewsgirl on Twitter.

Related Topics: CROW WING COUNTY FAIR4-H
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