By CINDY TOOPES Courier staff writer
---- — OTTUMWA — The Wells family of rural Ottumwa knows a lot about the outdoors, farm animals and how to create exhibits for the Wapello County 4-H Expo.
Throughout the day Wednesday, the Wapello County 4-H Expo judges talked with the 4-H members and asked them questions about why they chose certain projects and why.
“The kids actually explain themselves,” said Brad Wells.
Lauren Wells, 8, said she’s in 4-H because her mother put her there. Now Lauren shows animals and does creative projects for the Wapello County 4-H Expo.
“Mom is a 4-H leader, so I guess it’s a family affair,” Lauren said.
Morgan, Lauren’s older sister, works with animal projects, such as goats, chickens, cows, horses and even a cat.
“A cow is a nice animal and easy to work with,” Lauren said.
Morgan said she wants to be a veternarian later in her life.
Aimee Wells has been a 4-H Expo leader and is pleased that Morgan and Lauren want to be members, too.
“Both girls now have the opportunity to learn about and interact with animals,” she said. “They also learn about foods, nutrition and cooking. They’ve also learned about things like woodworking.”
Aimee also noted animals are a lot of responsibility. The family takes care of the animals and gets them ready for training so they can participate in events like the Wapello County 4-H Expo.
The expo is also a social event so other members can interact during the Expo and later listen to the judges’ assessments of the members’ exhibits. And later on, they can be involved in more 4-H events.
Brad used to be a “city kid,” but now he knows all about 4-H and the Expo.
“I grew up in the Ottumwa area and often visited my uncle, who farmed near Packwood,” Brad said. “I used to go there a lot during the summer because he always wanted help on the farm.”
He married Aimee at age 21, and now they have a farm. Brad also worked at Cargill for 14 years but decided to “go farming.”
“I was never in 4-H, but I want to give my kids the chance to participate in 4-H if they so desire,” Brad said. “And they did.”
Taylor Handy of Ottumwa has been in 4-H for nine years. She started participating in Clover Kids when she was in kindergarten. Now she’s the Wapello County 4-H Expo queen.
“I like the 4-H Expo projects and showing cattle and dogs,” Handy said.
She also noted events like the 4-H Expo gives young people a chance to show cattle and dogs.
“Be friendly. You can’t be shy when speaking to the judges,” she said. “Speak up for yourself. The more detailed you are, the better you will do.”