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4-H readies for a different kind of fair

By CHUCK BALLARO - | Feb 17, 2021

Janeva Younis, 12, gives a presentation while her sister, Danea, 9, offers a hand at a 4-H meeting Saturday at the North Fort Myers Community Park. CHUCK BALLARO


The Lee County and Southwest Florida Fair appears as though it will go on as scheduled later this month.

But it stands to be one of the most unique fairs in which area residents will take part.

For the kids who participate in the 4-H program in North Fort Myers, it will certainly be different. Members will be invited guests but many activities will be curtailed due to the pandemic.

Tahlia Rossi, an intern at Lee County 4-H, said at a Saturday 4-H meeting at the North Fort Myers Community Park that they continue to meet in person, but they will have to follow CDC guidelines and perhaps exceed them.

“We have a lot of virtual workshops, but most of that will happen in the summer. It’s been difficult, but we’re working through it,” Rossi said. “We have a lot of great volunteers. It’s been a team-building experience.”

The 4-H activities in the past would include things like a chicken barbecue, a fashion review with clothing made by 4-H members and essay contests. This year will be more limited, Rossi said.

The good news is it doesn’t mean 4-H members cannot put animals into the fair.

Kami Rice, 12, whose family has made 4-H a family tradition, said she is going to present a hog.

“Some of my friends showed it to us and we wanted to try it. It’s really fun and I show hogs and goats for the fair,” said Rice, who has been in 4-H for four years. “I won in my class two years ago.”

Kami is in the unique position of being a leader for the younger members, while being mentored by the older ones.

“I’m a leader because I like to help people. I do kindergarten day where you take them around the fair,” Rice said. “I do citizenship and just finished a hiking book and went to the Florida state capitol to meet our representative.”

Kami’s mom, Mandy, said that Kami has always been outgoing like her older sister, who is also a 4-H member who will graduate this year.

“It helped my older daughter come out of her shell and others come out of their shells. It taught her public speaking skills and to be an effective leader,” said Mandy, who was in 4-H as a child.

Kids have to keep a record book of their large animals like swine and steer. They also have to tell a story on what they did with their animals, the feed they used and problems and complications they encountered.

The four Rice children raised hogs last year, with one dying and a second not making weight. The ones that made it to the fair did well at auction, Mandy said.

Lee County 4-H is for boys and girls between the ages of 5 and 18. It helps empower children and teaches them leadership and life skills.