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The Student News Site of Fresno Christian High School

The Feather

The Student News Site of Fresno Christian High School

The Feather

Letter to the Editor

Cheerleader shows heifer at Fresno Fair

The Big Fresno Fair invites the county to participate in or show various exhibits ranging from crafts to farm animals from Oct. 3-14.

Although many students attend the fair each year, few submit work for the exhibits. Each year Sharon Scharf, art teacher, selects three or four students to exhibit art or quilts. However, few participate without a teacher’s request, especially in the 4-H division.

4-H is a Youth Development Program (YDP) available in every county of California. Renee Idsinga, ’08, joined 4-H last year after encouragement from Leanne Postada, Future Farmers of America (FFA) advisor at Kerman High. Although she transferred to this campus, 4-H was still an option and Idsinga continues to show her heifer (cow) at the Big Fresno Fair as a source of income.

According to the website, 4-H provides young people opportunities to build confidence, learn responsibility and development skills. This organization promotes hands-on learning and caters to ages 5-19.

“When I go to the Fresno Fair I show off my showmanship skills and then I sell my heifer, Ariel,” Idsinga said. “A few months before the fair I have to pick a heifer and start training it by walking, feeding and washing her.”

During the fair, Idsinga keeps her pen space clean, washes, feeds and waters her heifer and, before the show, clips and grooms it.

“Competing in the fair takes a lot time, effort and money,” Idsinga said, “but I think it pays off in the end. I have made many sacrifices over the years in order to show, mainly by taking the time out of my day to work with my heifer and the week I am out of school to show for the fair. It’s a great experience and is worth all the work put into it.”

Cheerleading, 4-H require strength, agility

Idsinga also participates on the varsity cheer squad as a front for one of the flyers. The FC cheer squad competes locally and nationally. Idsinga does not view her participation in 4-H as very different than cheering for athletic teams.

“We practice as a team since school let out in the spring,” Idsinga said. “We develop a routine that includes cheers, stunts and a dance for the football and basketball teams. We are committed to perfection and do what it takes to win. We practice cheer 5-6 days a week up to 90 minutes each day.”

But Idsinga says the heifer smell, ironically, is often not as bad as the cheerleaders after an hour and a half.

“After we are finished practicing cheer each day, I have to just live with myself on the ride home, Idsinga said. “I’m just glad that my heifer doesn’t object to me training it. I often smell worse than she does.”

Idsinga said she wears a 4-H uniform that includes: a green scarf, white drive-in hat with a 4-H clover, white Wrangler jeans and shirt. But she loves changing her boot color.

“Besides trading in my bows and cheer skirt for the 4-H unifrom, the biggest difference between cheer and 4-H is the weight issue. Cheerleaders are light in comparison to Ariel,” Idsinga said. ‘I have to tame a 400+ lb. heifer and walk it around. I need to show my pregnant heifer who is boss for about an hour a day. Helping toss a cheerleader is easy in comparison.”

While the Big Fresno Fair opens on Oct. 3, Idsinga is excited about competing.

“At the fair, I know the pig show is really competitive and so is the steers because all of the big time breeders from around here come and bring their best stuff,” Idsinga said. “I am doing the same thing with my heifer. The only difference between me and some of the other 4-H competitors is I like wearing pink boots.”

Idsinga will show her heifer on Oct. 4 in the early afternoon and will auction Ariel starting at 3 P.M. on Oct. 6.

4-H teaches responsibility beyond the classroom

FFA members who participate through four years of high school are able to compete one additional year after graduation. Unlike Idsinga, Lemoore High alumni, Meghan Loper, ’07, continues to show animals because of her interest in an agricultural career.

“This will be my fifth year in FFA,” Loper said. “I continue because I have a swine-breeding project and I want one more year to try and have bred and shown the supreme champion hog. I am also working towards getting my American Farmers degree.”

This year Loper plans to show pigs and some lambs.

“I am in FFA because I want to be a livestock vet and being in FFA,” Loper said, “I could work with the animals. While I work with the animals I gain experience and make connections with them.”

Loper placed first in showmanship her first year in FFA. Last year she possessed the champion sow and 3rd place overall market hog.

“For our specialty animals, our team won 3rd place at state,” Loper said. “Then for computers and applications I got the 5th highest in individual at UC Davis Competition. I have my state degree and I got second place in the swine proficiency.”

Loper credits the FFA for teaching her public speaking and working with other people and animals. She spent about $1,000 to buy a multitude of supplies like 10 months worth of food, medicine and other provisions.

Participation in the open show is free, but Lemoore High charges $450 to house lambs and pigs. Other schools’ prices may vary.

An open show will take place the first week of the fair, allowing participation from those too old to be in FFA. Different species are shown there, each in its own class and division.

“We practice with the pigs by taking them out into a pen and get them used to us. Then we practice walking them around and for lambs we have to halter break them,” Loper said. “We walk the lambs on the halter and once they are used to it we take the halter off. After we just practice setting them up and having them walk with us. The cows are taught the same as the lambs but you always use a halter.”

Idsinga agrees with Loper, that participating in the fair teaches responsibility to be used throughout their life.

“Showing an animal for 4-H teaches responsibility, because at the fair we have to pay entry fees and fill out the forms to enter our animals,” Idsinga said. “We are also responsible for our animals so if it gets sick or has a fungus we have to deal with it and pay any extra medical fees. We have to train our animals daily for a month prior to the fair.”

Idsinga will bring her heifer to the fair for judging on Oct. 2.

For more information, contact a local 4-H leader or the FFA office. To show animals independently for next year, contact the The Big Fresno Fair at (559) 650-3247.

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