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4-H a tradition for Cottonwood County Fair family

WINDOM -- Linda Stuckenbroker was standing in front of the arena at the Cottonwood County Fair cheering in support of her granddaughter, who was competing in the 4-H Horse Show.

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Linda Stuckenbroker (right) gives advice to her granddaughter, Ciera Visker, before Wednesday's 4-H Horse Show at the Cottonwood County Fair in Windom. (Martina Baca/Daily Globe)

WINDOM -- Linda Stuckenbroker was standing in front of the arena at the Cottonwood County Fair cheering in support of her granddaughter, who was competing in the 4-H Horse Show.

For many years, Stuckenbroker herself was exactly where her granddaughter was standing right then, as well as her three kids and even her husband. For her family, 4-H has been a long-time family tradition that has passed through three generations.

Tears come to Stuckenbroker’s eyes when she remembers watching her kids and grandchildren compete at the Minnesota State Fair.

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“We worked with them, encouraged them and they worked hard,” she said. “It is fun to see them compete on that level.”

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She participated in livestock, showing cattle, as well as general projects starting at age 9. Now, looking back on all these years of  4-H, she said she would have never guessed that the program would grow so close to her heart. Though many things have changed with 4-H since her youth, much remains the same -- like the family concept behind it.

“4-H is about family and it is about your extended 4-H family,” Stuckenbroker said. “You remember people that you met, and you have life-long friends and family. That is very important. It is just passing on generation to generation that community is the biggest thing.”

She also pointed out a few of the positive changes she believes 4-H has made over the years, like the increase of safety, the interaction with the judges and the ability of the program to reach out to children in urban areas.

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“There are a lot of the same traditions, yet there are a lot of new projects and new thought processes to integrate not only farm kids but city as well into the program,” Stuckenbroker said.

Today, one of the things she enjoys most is being able to help kids with their projects and see them improve.

“The most important thing is to be focused on the kids’ projects and teaching them and letting them make their own mistakes and learn from them,” she explained.

Stuckenbroker also realizes the responsibilities that come with being a leadership figure for the kids.

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“You have to be careful, too, because you have to always be thinking these kids are looking at me, so how do I present myself to other people as far as sportsmanship and safety,” she said. “Giving them good advice and patting them on the back and telling them ‘good job’ is essential.

“It has taught me a lot in life -- that it is not all about me, but how we can better grow as a community and how we can be role models for kids to be part of society and the community.”

Community involvement now plays a big role in Stuckenbroker’s life. She has been leasing horses to kids who aren’t able to have one of their own.

“It is about getting other people involved and helping somebody else that wouldn't have an opportunity otherwise,” she said.

She encourages every child to be part of the 4-H program -- not only because of all the things it can teach, but for all the doors that it can open.

“4-H is a worldwide program and the sky is the limit to what you can and can't do in 4-H,” Stuckenbroker said. “You just need the desire to do it and belief in yourself.”

Related Topics: AGRICULTURE4-H
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