State fair bittersweet for 10-year 4-H’er


When Louisa Nino of Huntingburg took her 4-H projects to the 2018 Indiana State Fair in Indianapolis earlier this month, it was bittersweet.


The daughter of Judy and Primitivo Nino graduated from Southridge High School this year, so the state fair was the last time she’d display 4-H projects. Her 10-year career with the Clover Conspirators 4-H Club and equally-long run of showings in the state fair was coming to an end.

This year, Nino took three projects to the state fair: a recipe for foods, a table and chairs she refurbished for home environment, and public speaking. She received a blue state fair ribbon for all of them and earned special merit for her foods and public speaking projects.

Earning your way to the state fair takes a lot of pre-planning and work, Nino said. She started planning her project months before the Dubois County 4-H Fair, which ran July 16-20, and was still putting final touches on the projects the morning she had to drop them off. The hard work paid off. At the county fair, Nino earned champion for her foods project and grand champion for her public speaking and home environment projects, earning a place for each at the state fair.

After qualifying for the state fair, Nino said, she had about a month to touch up her projects and take them to the next level for the state fair. Again, she was working on them up to the last minute.

Going into fair season, Nino was confident she’d perform well. She’s been completing projects in public speaking, foods and home environment for most of her 4-H career, building on her skills year after year. Initially, she chose to participate in the three categories because each one focused on something she enjoyed. She grew up cooking with her mom, she said, so foods offered a chance to do more of that, and the home environment projects let her express her creativity.

“I’m not very good at drawing,” she said. “But making things, I can do.”

As for public speaking, she said she likes to talk, so that project seemed like a good fit.

If her award history is any indication, she chose her projects well. Nino has advanced to the state fair with at least one project almost each of her 10 years in 4-H, usually bringing home a blue ribbon from the state fair each year.

“It’s awesome to see my work up there (at the state fair),” she said. “It’s being recognized at the state level.”

Beyond her annual projects, Nino also participated in several leadership programs and conferences 4-H offers. Now that she’s leaving 4-H behind, she said she’ll miss the opportunities to go to those conferences and the state fair. The 4-H events offered the opportunity to meet people from across the state, which was a highlight for Nino.

Going forward, Nino will take the skills she learned in 4-H with her to college at Indiana University. Thanks for 4-H, she learned life skills that will serve her well.

“You learn how to talk to different kinds of people whether they’re like you or completely different,” Nino said. “You also learn time management. You can’t start a project a week before fair and expect to do well.”

Dubois County 4-H’ers took 114 projects to the state fair, not including livestock projects.

Blue ribbon with merit winners include Nino, Grace Weigel, Sydney Pinkstaff, Gabriella Eck, Jackson Clark, Brynlee Wehr, Emma Hall, Sawyer Reckelhoff, Addison Schnell, Kylie Patterson, Emma Hassfurther, Elizabeth Brown, Amber Tretter, Mason Sermersheim, Lydia Devillez and Aaron Hurst. Nino, Weigel and Eck won merit on multiple projects.

Eck also won Sweepstakes, the highest award, for her soil and water science and geology projects.

Two projects from Dubois County were awarded white ribbons, 23 were awarded red ribbons, 70 were awarded blue ribbons only and 19 won blue ribbons with special merit. Results for the livestock projects are still being finalized.

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