4-H team places nationally
WINDOM — A quartet of 4-H Consumer Decision Making team members from Cottonwood and Jackson counties garnered third place over the weekend at the Western National Round-Up in Denver, Colo.
Abby and Natalie Resch and Spencer Wolter, all of Windom, and Kristin Liepold of Okabena earned the trip to the Consumer Decision Making Contest and Family Consumer Science Skill-a-thon after earning first place in Minnesota’s 4-H Consumer Decision Making competition last August. They returned home Sunday night with a collection of National Round-Up ribbons for their efforts.
Coached by Lisa Fest, the team placed third overall, third in oral reasons and fourth in the group process and Skill-a-Thon contests. The group process evaluated the teamwork and discussion among participants as they were asked to choose fruits to include in a fruit basket fundraiser that would net the best profit.
“Consumer Decisions is life skills that you’re going to use every day,” explained Fest of the contest.
Judges compare items in a series of competitions, identifying the best products based on value and quality.
“It’s similar to other judging teams … they’re going to place these four (items) in order and give oral reasons on a couple of classes,” Fest said.
The teams judged six different objects, from luggage and jeans to household cleaners, televisions, children’s toys and breakfast cereals.
Abby and Natalie Resch are the team veterans, having competed together in local and regional contests for the past three years. They were joined last summer by Wolter and Liepold to create the first senior team within the two-county partnership.
Abby Resch, a freshman at the University of Minnesota, grew up in a family that did comparison shopping. Finding a use for that knowledge in 4-H, she said, was “very fun.”
“For me, the easiest part seems to be oral reasons,” said Resch, a former speech competitor and FFA member at Windom Area High School. She placed fifth overall individually in oral reasons at the national contest.
Eleven teams from across the country participated in the contest, stretching from North Dakota to Texas and New Mexico to Georgia.
The Cottonwood-Jackson team conducted several fundraisers to help pay for their trip to Denver, and there are more planned.
“We received some grants and the (4-H) Federations put forth money to help support the trip,” Fest said, adding that several businesses also donated funds. Another fundraiser is planned at a home basketball game at Southwest Star Concept (SSC) in late February.
Since the four 4-H’ers competed at the national contest, they are ineligible to compete in future consumer decision making contests. However, Fest said a couple of them have already volunteered to help coach new teams in the coming year.
“It’s been a very good program in the county,” she said, adding that Cottonwood-Jackson 4-H took three teams to the state last year, earning first in the senior division and first and second in the intermediate division.
Liepold, who joined the team last June and practiced with the Resches and Wolter leading up to the state contest, said she got involved because she wanted to be part of a judging team and get the “full 4-H experience.”
“It was fun to learn different things,” said Liepold, a senior at SSC. “It helped me practice my speaking skills and teamwork skills.”
As a team, the members practiced from June up to the state contest in late August, and then again from November until the national contest.
In addition to competing in Friday’s Skill-a-Thon and Saturday’s contests, the local youths toured the Denver area, including the Denver Zoo, Museum of Nature and Science and Denver Stock Show.
“For me, already being at the National FFA Convention, this was a completely different experience,” Resch said. “It was just so much fun.”
Natalie Resch and Wolter were the youngest members on the team. They are both sophomores at Windom Area High School.
Fest said she and the team members are willing to help 4-H’ers in other counties in southwest Minnesota who are interested in forming a consumer decision making team.