One Mor-gan Time

Morgan Kirch heads into her last Stillwater County 4-H Fair experience
By: 
Mikaela Koski
Thursday, July 11, 2019
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Photo courtesy of the Kirch family

Morgan Kirch has participated in beef projects throughout her decade in 4-H. 

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Photo courtesy of the Kirch family

Morgan Kirch during one of her first years in 4-H.

Next Saturday, Morgan Kirch will lead a steer through the auction ring at the Stillwater County Fairgrounds for the final time.  She anticipates this year being a little more emotional than those past, as a big part of her life – 4-H – will be coming to a close.

For 11 of Morgan’s 18 years, she has been involved in 4-H. She’s participated in beef, vet science, Teen Leaders, and Exchange.

Each year, for her beef project, she completed activities to more completely understand the animal, covering topics such as anatomy and nutritional needs.  During January, the animal was weighed for the first time, and from that point Kirch was responsible for feeding and caring for it until the fair each July.

She recalls school days, book-ended by feeding and caring for her animal before classes and after practice.  And then there is all the work during the summer to prepare the animal for showing at the fair, including the not-so-fun task of “getting pulled around while teaching your steer to lead.”

Kirch says she has enjoyed all of her projects, and she has “more knowledge of the beef industry and ranching because of 4-H.”

All of the hard work she puts into her beef project each year literally pays off at the end of fair week after the livestock auction.

“One of the things that I am most proud of is that I was able to buy my first car with money saved from showing beef,” Kirch explains.  “As I head off to college next month, I even have some money saved to help with other college expenses.”

Kirch has taken full advantage of all the 4-H experience has to offer, serving in several leadership roles during her time with the Beartooth Ramblers 4-H club, sharing her experiences and helping younger members navigate the work involved with 4-H projects.

Not only has she helped her fellow 4-H members, but Kirch has also participated in numerous activities to help her local community, “such as road clean-ups, helping serve meals to the elderly at Easter, raising money for the local fire department, and donating toys and blankets to the local emergency room.”

Working with people through 4-H has helped Kirch gain confidence in other areas of her life.  She notes, “I think one of the reasons that I am okay with talking in front of others is because through 4-H you are taught to be a better leader and do good in your community.”

Kirch has also been able to see other parts of the country through the 4-H Exchange program.  She visited Texas and Indiana, during which times Kirch remembers she “met some really great people and saw some things that I may not otherwise have been able to experience.”  A couple of those experiences include frog gigging in Indiana and visiting the Alamo.

While competing in market shows for grand and reserve champion, helping others, and taking cross-country trips have been very important parts of Kirch’s 4-H experience, her favorite part from the past 11 years can be boiled down to one word: friends.

Kirch’s favorite part of the 4-H year is attending the fair and seeing all of the friends she has made throughout the years.  Always trying to prank each other, Kirch says “being in the barn with friends are some of my best 4-H memories.”

Her “ultimate memory” involves local fair fun – “being a part of the unbeaten pig wrestling team!”

Kirch will be attending the University of Montana-Western in Dillon this fall to play volleyball and pursue a degree in biology.

While her time in Stillwater County 4-H will end next week, the memories and relationships Kirch has created during her time in 4-H are sure to last much longer.

FAIR INFORMATION

The Stillwater County 4-H and FFA Fair gets kicked off Sunday, July 14, with a horse and mini horse show at the Keyser Creek Arena.

FFA and 4-H members will show off their hard work with judged competitions throughout the week at the Stillwater County Chuck Egan Fairgrounds and at other locations around Columbus.  Admission is free for the public.

Participants with indoor projects will take part in interviews on Monday, and the animal shows begin in earnest on Tuesday and last through Friday.

Thursday and Friday afternoons will feature “community games,” and the annual evening of pig wrestling fun will take place Friday at 6 p.m.

Four-person teams will compete to be the fastest to get their pig into the barrel in four different categories: pee wee (4-8 years old), intermediate (9-15 years old), women (16 and older), and men/mixed (16 and older).  Organizers will be accepting team entries until Thursday, July 18.

The fair wraps up with the market livestock sale and closure of the silent auction Saturday afternoon.

BY THE NUMBERS

The 2019 fair will feature 1,235 entries from 141 exhibitors, according to the Stillwater County MSU-Extension Office.

There are 20 departments of project categories in this year’s fair book, ranging from “breeding animals” to “communications and expressive arts.”  Those departments house 81 different project topics in which members can participate.

The almost 150 exhibitors will represent 11 4-H clubs and three FFA chapters.  The members come from eight local communities: Absarokee, Broadview, Columbus, Fishtail, Molt, Nye, Park City, and Rapelje.

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