INMAN — Addison Wedel, 10, is more than a little interested in outer space.
Addison, along with her siblings — 18-year-old twins Collin and Kaylee, are members of the Country Cousins 4-H Club in Inman.
A poster board about Mars is just one of Addison’s projects that she entered at the McPherson County 4-H Fair.
“It (project) was about how scientists are doing a lot of tests to see if humans can live on Mars,” Addison said.
Getting there is one of the hurdles astronauts will have to overcome, and Addison has that covered, too, with the rocket she made through 4-H.
“It was really hard with all the sanding and priming and painting and launching,” Addison said.
Her rocket reached a height of 256 feet — and won Grand Champion, as did her Mars poster.
Addison also entered an arts and crafts project at this year’s fair.
“This year, I did two paintings, a Lego set, a wreath and a sewing art,” she said.
However, she said perhaps her favorite 4-H activity is working with sheep. This year she entered her third lamb at the fair, a Hampshire she named “Buddy,” and won grand champion honors for sheep showmanship. She said she spends hours getting her lambs used to a halter and teaches them how to brace their legs when she is showing them. Caring for lambs every day is no easy task, she said.
“You have to be responsible enough so you don’t forget to feed them and keep their water full and make sure they have hay,” Addison said.
Her interest in livestock came from years of watching her older siblings and friends show goats, sheep and horses. In fact, that is what draws her back to the 4-H fair for the third year in a row.
“I like that you get to spend time with friends and you get to learn a lot by watching them show their animals,” Addison said.
Julie Wedel, mother of Addison, Collin and Kaylee, said she sees that her children are learning many things by tackling their 4-H projects and volunteering to help others.
“They’re very good leaders, they enjoy doing projects and trying new things,” Julie Wedel said.
Their choices are not limited to livestock-related pursuits.
“Everybody has the assumption that it’s just for farm kids and it’s not, it’s for city kids, too,” Julie Wedel said.
Collin Wedel chose to do rocketry and robotics through 4-H, building Lego robots on his own.
“It was a lot of fun,” he said.
He raised and entered sheep and goats in past years and competed in a category called “horseless horse.”
“With that, I did horse quiz bowl and stuff like that,” Collin Wedel said.
His passion, however, came in the small engines division, where he followed in his father’s footsteps to restore engines.
“I like stuff that’s mechanical,” Collin Wedel said. “I like doing stuff with my hands and my dad did restorations projects on ‘67 and ‘62 Chevy pickups.”
Collin Wedel’s restoration projects include John Deere 110 garden tractors, a 1999 Ford tractor and a 1952 Massey Harris pony tractor.
“Those would take me all year, sometimes two,” he said.
Still, he doesn’t mind the hours spent in making something usable out of what was once considered trash.
“Sometimes it can feel like it’s really big and you’re always doing 4-H stuff and you don’t have time for anything else, but in the long run, it really doesn’t take that much time,” Collin Wedel said.
Older sister Kaylee Wedel said she agreed there are a many ways to become involved in 4-H
“You can do arts and crafts, foods, there’s reading displays, geology, entomology, shooting sports, wildlife, space tech, photography — there’s all kinds of stuff, it’s not just about animals,” Kaylee Wedel agreed.
Kaylee Wedel has been involved in 4-H for 10 years.
“My earliest 4-H memories are of coming to the fair,” Kaylee Wedel said.
Initially, she helped her friends to take care of their 4-H animals. Through the years, she has raised sheep, goats and horses.
“I’m really proud of my horses. This year, I have two mares that I’ve trained and done 100 percent of the work on by myself,” Kaylee Wedel said.
Her mares were awarded a reserve grand champion ribbon and third place during halter competition on Saturday night in the 4-H Fair’s horse show. Brother, Collin, helped lead one of her horses into the show ring and stood with her during judging.
In addition, Kaylee won blue ribbons for bareback riding and barrels, a purple ribbon on poles, and also won ribbons for western horsemanship and western pleasure.
Kaylee Wedel said she also enters arts and crafts and food creations, including an independent project where she composed a cookbook made up of recipes from other 4-Hers.
Making an entry is only part of the process, as 4-Hers are also judged on their time management, record keeping and how they communicate the details of their creation with others.
“It helps you prepare for job interviews and interviews you might do for scholarships,” Kaylee Wedel said.
Kaylee graduated from Inman High School earlier this year, so this is her last year to participate in 4-H. In the past decade, she has gone from observing others to teaching them, and has served as a 4-H ambassador.
“It’s a great organization to be a part of,” Kaylee Wedel said. “You learn valuable leadership skills and responsibility.”
Contact Patricia Middleton by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her stories on Twitter at @MacSentinel.