4-H’er to celebrate birthday at fair

Hallie Sutherland joined 4-H five years ago because she thought showing animals would be fun. Friday is her 16th birthday, and she'll spend it showing sheep at the fair.

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July 28, 2022 - 1:45 PM

Hallie Sutherland will show a dog, two pigs, four sheep and a heifer at this year’s Allen County Fair. She joined 4-H because she thought showing animals would be fun. Photo by Vickie Moss / Iola Register

Hallie Sutherland will spend her Sweet 16 showing sheep.

Friday is her birthday. 

She expects celebrating the milestone at the fair will be a unique experience, but Hallie is all about trying new things. After all, that’s what prompted her to join 4-H.

Unlike many of her fellow 4-Hers, Hallie joined a club just five years ago. Often, 4-H’ers are introduced to the organization much younger, and can become members as young as 7. 

“I always wanted to show animals,” she said. “It seemed fun.”

Even so, she started with indoor events including photography, baking and horticulture.

Those projects alone provided plenty of learning opportunities, especially baking.

“We had a lot of food fails,” she said with a laugh. “One time, I burnt chocolate. I didn’t know that was a thing.”

Her initial experience showing animals was with dogs. 

Last year, she won big in both obedience and showmanship with her Cavalier King Charles spaniel.

This year, she wanted to try a different dog “and see what would happen.”

She borrowed Moose, a golden retriever, and was named champion in the rally obedience class, which is sort of like an obstacle course. They also earned a blue ribbon in showmanship and a red ribbon in obedience (Moose was too excited to sit for an extended period of time). Moose has show ring experience, but it has been a couple of years.

“He did pretty good for not having done it in a while,” she said. 

Hallie also took on more of a behind-the-scenes role this year, assisting outgoing dog project leader Karen McKarnin. Next year, she hopes she’ll be equipped to assist a new leader if needed. 

HER SECOND year in 4-H, Hallie started showing pigs. Last year, she showed sheep for the first time. This year, she added a heifer. 

So, altogether, she’s taking care of two pigs, a heifer and four sheep this year. 

It’s a lot of work, but she doesn’t mind. 

“Feeding is a process,” she said. 

The pigs, especially, require a lot of time and effort. She feeds and waters them twice a day. In the evening, she takes them for a walk and works with them to prepare for the show. 

Adding sheep was a whole different kind of learning experience.

“I wanted to add more animals,” she said. “They are way more out there than pigs.”

In addition to feeding and training them to show, she has to wash their legs daily and use clippers to trim their hair. 

She’s already taken her sheep to eight spring shows and was happy with their performance. 

She has one ewe named Pua and three wethers (castrated males) named Moose, Denny Crane and Alan Shore. She and her parents have been watching the television show “Boston Legal” so two of the names come from characters in the show. 

She has enjoyed learning about their different personalities.

“My favorite is Alan but I don’t know if he’s the best. He’s the friendliest,” she said.

She thinks she will do well at the sheep show today.

“My goal is to win the county fair. That’s also my expectation,” she said, straightforward.

Why so certain?

“I’ve just learned to come out with confidence.”

She has reason to be confident. Last year, in her first time showing sheep, she earned reserve champion in the overall market lamb competition.

WHEN HALLIE first dreamed about showing animals, she always expected she would show cattle. 

“It just looked like fun,” she said. 

In November, while Hallie was attending Iola High School as a sophomore, her agriculture teacher asked if she was interested in showing Elsie, a Hereford Angus cross. Hallie jumped on the opportunity. 

When asked about her goals and expectations for Elsie, Hallie was much less confident. She doesn’t have any previous experience to build on.

“We’ll just see what happens.”

Elsie will go back to her home farm after the fair. 

Adding another animal, though, meant more work. 

“It’s just a lot of time. I try to walk each of them every night,” she said.  

She’s happy with her decision to join 4-H and show animals.

“I’ve learned a lot from a lot of different people, how to take care of the animals, how to make them look good, how to show properly,” she said. “And I’ve met a lot of people.”

She’s also learned about responsibility, time management and leadership. She is a member of the City Slickers 4-H Club, where she has served as secretary and treasurer in the past; this year, she is president. 

She encourages others to join 4-H, even youth who are a little bit older when they start.

“It’s very fun. I’ve had a lot of new experiences.”

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