Clancy brothers know the importance of 4-H, county fair

Walt Mares File Photo/Gila Herald: The Clancy brothers, who are 4-H members, participated in the 2018 Greenlee County Fair with their fowls. They will do so again this year in the county fair that runs this week, Sept. 19-22. All three spoke of the learning experience and fun they had and how important 4-H is to them. They gave names to their birds. At left is Max with “Super Silkie,” a Black Silkie. Ben is at center with “Edward,” a Silver Spangled bird, and at right is Gabe with his rooster “Fatty,” a Mille Fluer D’Uccle. Gabe received a junior Championship belt buckle. Ben was third in Peewee Showmanship. All three brothers received a blue ribbon.

Youths are examples of what responsibility such projects involve

By Walt Mares

DUNCAN – None have ended up in a cooking pot. In fact, all but one of the chickens and rooster raised by the Clancy brothers for last year’s Greenlee County Fair are still doing mighty fine. The only casualty has been a rooster who apparently died of old age.

This year, they are a little older and at least a little wiser. The 2018 county fair was quite a learning experience for them and their parents. Thus, they have been preparing for the past year for the 2019 Greenlee County Fair to be held at the fairgrounds in Duncan this week, Sept. 19-22. 

This week, the Clancys and many other youths in Greenlee County 4-H will be at the Greenlee County Fair with their small animals competing for a blue ribbon. There are also rewards in earning red or white ribbons, second and third places, which are nothing to scoff at. All three colors of ribbons signify that youths have been diligent in raising their critters, be it fowls, rabbits or another creature.

The Clancy boys are of course a year older than when they participated in the 2018 county fair. They are Gabriel, 13, Max 12, and Dean, 7.

The Clancy boys’ mother, Naomi, and dad, Rafe, point to the many benefits derived from their boys raising small animals. Doing so requires being responsible and dedicated. Among other things, it means following through on commitments. Their efforts can be a major factor in what youngsters learn about those important characteristics and apply them in their future lives.  

Dad Rafe said that skills learned at an early age can help children succeed later in life. That includes participation in 4-H.

Ah, but there is more. There is the benefit in positive social interaction. That means meeting and coming to know other people, parents, and children, who are involved in 4-H.

Mom Naomi said, “I’m grateful for the wonderful 4-H families we’ve met in the last year.  It’s been a great experience for all of us, and the group has been so welcoming and helpful for us “newbies’.” 

She and Rafe point to the many other activities their children and other 4-H members have the opportunity to experience.  

She said, “The boys have participated in new activities including rocketry, food and nutrition, archery, and poultry showmanship. As a family, we’ve gone to Family Camp and Grapachlee summer camp, a ropes course and trampoline park in Tucson, and been able to help out with numerous community service activities in Morenci, Clifton, and Duncan.” 

She added, “As a family, we’ve raised poultry for years, but poultry showmanship is a totally different animal.” No pun intended. 

After the 2018 county fair, Naomi said, “We’ve had a steep learning curve this year, learning all about the history and parts of our birds, terminology, washing and prepping birds for show, and the showmanship techniques themselves.  Over the year, I’ve seen the boys’ ability to stick to hard tasks, like doing chores in the rain or dusting an entire yard of birds, increase, along with their sense of responsibility. 

“I saw this even more so at fair, when the 4H kids all worked together to help each other, whether it was feeding and watering, getting ready for activities, or working in the food booth. I was surprised to hear that the two older boys’  (Gabe and Max) favorite part of the fair was the food booth because they liked feeling like they had an important job.”

Ben commented, “Fair is really fun and also you met lots of  friends.” Pointing to his fowls and describing their breed, Gabe said, “These are my Mille Fleurs They’re really cute, and I never would have gotten them without 4H. 4H is really fun!” 

Max spoke of what is involved in participating in the county fair, saying “Fair is hard work, but really rewarding when you get to see how your birds did.”

Naomi said, “Both Rafe and I are sad that our parents didn’t have us in 4-H as kids; even if you don’t raise animals, there’s so many projects and excursions available.  It’s a great opportunity for the kids to meet new friends, do good things, and have a great time.”

Experience

Tom Powers a long-time 4-H and overall county fair supporter emphasized that participation in 4-H teaches youths “responsibility.”  He said that whether it is small animal or bigger animals, such as steers, hogs, sheep or goats, young folks learn about business, as in having a budget. “How much is spent on feed and other costs and how much will be made in return when their animals are auction off. It really does take a lot of caring, time and dedication to raise an animal, regardless of its size. And learning about business by having a budget is real important.”

No doubt Powers will be taking a close look at all animals at the fair. He has for many years taken an active interest in the larger animals that will be sold at the fair’s auction barn. He buys a hog and it is used for pork burros that are sold at the annual Morenci Lions Club baseball tournament. 

Powers is involved in many community activities and is also the Greenlee County Schools Superintendent. He said jokingly at the end of an interview, “Like they say, we’ll meet you at the fair.” 

That is a line from a song about the World’s Fair in St. Louis held early in the 20th Century.

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