If you thought county fairs and 4-H were just for livestock or farm animals, think again! If your child is interested in dogs, 4-H is an amazing place for them to learn about training, showing and caring for them. At the 2023 Thurston County Fair you can meet 4-H member Rowan Scholl and her crew of canines. Ask her questions and see the amazing job she has done training her partners.
Rowan will be a sophomore this fall at North Thurston High School. This summer marks the end of her fourth year in 4-H with the Muttz-K-Teers 4-H Dog Club in Thurston County. It was Rowan who asked her parents if she could join 4-H. “I didn’t grow up with 4-H, and honestly didn’t know anything about it,” says her mother, Erin School. “Rowan asked about it one day, saying she wanted to join and work with our dog Sharlene. I had no idea a person could do 4-H with a dog, let alone a mix breed dog.”
That’s right, you don’t have to a registered purebred dog to do 4-H, all breeds, age and mixes are welcome! In fact, both of Rowan’s dogs are rescues. Sharlene is the dog she started 4-H with and is mostly rottweiler. The family has had her since Rowan was 8. Moose is a German shepherd dog mix they got when Rowan was 12. Rowan also works with one of her 4-H leader’s dogs, a cardigan Welsh corgi named Zeke.
“I will be taking Zeke to Fair this year and will be doing Obedience and Junior Showmanship with him,” shares Rowan. “But you’ll catch me at our agility qualifiers with Sharlene! I’ll also be participating in Dog Judging, Knowledge Bowl, Educational Displays, and my Presentation, which don’t include the dogs.”
She adds that you can also find her around the FFA buildings with her livestock projects. Rowan participates in Livestock Judging contests. “Livestock judging has definitely been a challenge since there are multiple classes of animals to judge, and you might have to present oral reasons on more than one class,” she explains. She will most likely be competing in it at the Thurston County Fair, depending on ring schedules, which Rowan says is one of the biggest challenged of Fair. “One challenge about fair is definitely ring conflicts. I’ll have to figure out how to be two places at one time and make it to every contest!”
In addition to prepping for the fair, Rowan attended the WSU 4-H State Teen Conference held in June. “The teen conference was definitely a new experience for me!” she says. “I really liked the team bonding experiences. I did a few workshops on livestock, which I enjoyed and learned from.”
4-H Teaches Lessons That Last a Lifetime
4-H teaches life skills including discipline, working with others, business, marketing, public speaking and more. Getting to work on a project that they are really passionate about outside of school also gives kids a boost of confidence. That’s certainly the case for Rowan according to Erin. “She has much more self-confidence, and I still see that growing,” Erin shares. “While she is a more quiet and reserved personality, if you get her talking about dogs or her livestock, she really comes out of her shell! She has really developed her oral presentation skills. I am impressed with how well she speaks when in front of a crowd.”
There are not many entering sophomores that know what they want to do with their lives. But of the ones that do, chances are many of them are 4-H members. “4-H has motivated her in ways I don’t think I ever could have,” shares Erin. “It has inspired her to want to pursue a career working with animals, and specifically to want to work with dogs with behavior issues in an effort to keep them out of shelters. Don’t get me wrong, I have always thought Rowan was smart, but working in the dog project and with our dogs, she has taught me so much about dogs (and now livestock) that I never would have known if she hadn’t joined 4-H. I am grateful every day that she found not only 4-H but the club she is involved in. Her dog project club, Muttz-K-Teers, has made a huge impact on her life, and mine as well!”
Meet Rowan at the Thurston County Fair
Rowan is excited to be headed to the Thurston County Fair July 26-30, 2023. “I think I look forward to the connections I make and the time well spent with friends at fair!” she says. “Along with spending quality time with all my animals.” Be sure to stop and say hi to Rowan and her canine crew! To learn more about joining 4-H, visit the WSU Extension website.