Lubben marks final year as Nobles County 4-H'er

WORTHINGTON -- Her blue eyes may start to gloss over a little bit when she walks her market steer out of the beef show at the Nobles County Fair for the last time today.

Stephanie Lubben, a member of the Indian Lake Progressives 4-H Club, poses with her crossbred market steer, Milburn, at the Nobles County Fair. Lubben will compete in the county 4-H beef show for the last time today as a 4-H member.

WORTHINGTON -- Her blue eyes may start to gloss over a little bit when she walks her market steer out of the beef show at the Nobles County Fair for the last time today.

It is Stephanie Lubben's final year as a 4-H member, and admittedly she's "quite sad" about it.

Lubben was just 8years old when she joined the Indian Lake Progressives club 11 years ago. She is now at the helm as club president, in addition to serving as a county 4-H ambassador.

For the past two years, Lubben has focused solely on beef projects at the fair. This year she has two crossbred market steers and a New Vision Co-op calf, all of which will be judged this morning during the beef show in Olson Arena. The show starts at 9 a.m.

Lubben, whose family raises a few feeder cattle, has been enrolled in the beef project ever since she was old enough to be in 4-H.


In the early years she showed feeder calves, but after helping out a cousin with one of the bigger beef animals, she was hooked on the excitement of walking the massive beasts into the show ring.

Today, she competes with her beef animals at shows throughout the tri-state area, starting with the Sioux Empire Farm Show in Sioux Falls, S.D., the AGR/Block & Bridle Show in Brookings, S.D., and open shows in Albert Lea and Algona, Iowa. After the Nobles County Fair, she hopes to earn a trip to the Minnesota State Fair.

"My final show as a 4-H'er will be at Ak-Sar-Ben at the end of September," Lubben said. "I like to go to the open shows because I meet a lot of people."

Typically, Lubben and her sister get their show steers in October or November and then work with them throughout the winter, spring and summer to keep them in show-quality shape.

Lubben said the family looks at a lot of calves before deciding which ones they want as show cattle. After 11 years showing beef animals, she knows what to look for -- a straight back, a good stride, soundness on feet and legs and fuzzy ears.

Fuzzy ears?

Lubben said fuzzy ears are a sign of good hair -- a trait that is important when they are working to show off the animal's best features.

Working with her two steers -- Milburn and Mr. Drysdale -- about four hours each day, Lubben said the time is spent leading her animals around the farm yard and washing them twice each day.


When it comes to showing them in competition, the 4-H'er has a few secret weapons -- Prime Time adhesive, TRESemmé shampoo and Dawn dishwashing liquid.

The TRESemmé shampoo makes her steers' hair soft and smooth, said Lubben, while the adhesive -- working like a "super sticky hairspray" -- ensures that a single hair won't be out of place when the animal goes before the judge.

When the show is over, Lubben will lead the cattle back out to the wash rack and lather up her steers in Dawn -- a dishwashing liquid that breaks through grease and also, apparently, super sticky hairspray.

After rinsing out the Dawn, Lubben squirts on TRESemmé shampoo to bring back the softness and shine on the steers' black coats.

Moving on

After a long 4-H career, Lubben said she has been fortunate to have so many opportunities in the leadership-building organization. She was involved in Interstate Exchange four years, traveling to Denver, Colo., DeWitt County, Texas, and Pennsylvania with fellow 4-H'ers from Nobles County. She also took part in Citizenship Washington Focus, spending a week in the nation's capital city to learn about history and government.

Those experiences, coupled with her role as a club officer and county ambassador, have had a major impact on her life.

"I've learned how to take responsibility by having my own animals, and (about the) leadership it takes to help the younger members be more involved," Lubben said. "(4-H) gives a lot of opportunities that people might not know about."


Lubben is sad to be walking away from those experiences.

"I've enjoyed (4-H) a lot. I'm going to miss it," she said.

Nearing the start of her sophomore year at Minnesota West Community and Technical College in Worthington, Lubben will eventually move on to South Dakota State University in Brookings, where she plans to pursue degrees in animal science and pre-vet.

"Growing up with animals all my life, I've cared for animals forever and I just want to be able to some day go out and help the animals," she said.

Lubben began working at the Veterinary Medical Center in Worthington on a school-to-work program when she was a senior in high school. She now works there part-time during the school year and full-time during the summer. This summer she's been working in the veterinary pharmacy.

"It's been a great learning experience," she said. "It's helped me decide that's really what I want to go into."

Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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