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Time and effort lead to stack of purple ribbons for Fulda teen

Faith White earns several grand champion ribbons — and Minnesota State Fair trips — with exhibits at the Nobles County Fair.

4h grand champion - Faith White
4-H'er Faith White is shown with two of her grand champion projects, a photography entry and a homemade teeter-totter for her dog, at the Nobles County Fair in Worthington. (Julie Buntjer / The Globe)

WORTHINGTON — By the second day of the Nobles County Fair, 4-H’er Faith White of rural Fulda had more than half a dozen options when considering what she might take to the Minnesota State Fair later this month.

The 16-year-old member of the Graham Lakes Braves has been hard at work to complete projects pretty much since the state fair wrapped up last September.

Take, for instance, her grand champion winning photography entry, which captures beautiful fall foliage inverted through the use of a glass sphere — a popular photography trick she had recently learned about. White purchased a sphere, and when the family was visiting her older brothers at college in Winona last fall, she tested it out. The results were spectacular, and the judges thought so too.

White also garnered grand champion in quilting. She learned the art from her mom, and this was her second year entering a quilt in 4-H competition. The quilt features several fabric choices, the most dominant being the squares printed with images of llamas (although she prefers they were alpacas).

The quilt was a snow day project — and there were certainly enough of them last winter to keep White busy piecing and sewing when she couldn’t be in school.

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“Our school doesn’t do e-learning days, so I had nothing to do,” she said, adding that her mom helped her with it a little because she expanded the pattern from its original lap quilt size to a twin size. In all, she estimates she spent about 60 hours on the quilt. Once she had it pieced and sewn together, she finished it off as a tied quilt.

Carrying on with the alpaca theme, White made a pillowcase to match the quilt, as well as a blanket that features the same printed fabric on one side and fuzzy fabric on the other. Those two pieces, along with a dog bandanna, were entered in the sewing, non-garment project area.

White’s fascination with alpacas is due to the family’s recent foray into raising them.

“Alpacas are way better than llamas — alpacas are cuter,” she said with a grin, and an explanation as to why she prefers to see alpacas instead of llamas on her quilt.

White has her alpacas at the fair this week, although she won’t actually exhibit them until next week, during the 4-H Regional Alpaca Show during the Murray County Fair in Slayton.

The Whites harvest the fiber from their alpacas with the ultimate goal of spinning it into yarn, which can then be used to make scarves, hats, mittens and blankets.

White doesn’t know how to knit or crochet, but “I’ll have to learn how to do that!”

In order to transform the alpaca fiber into yarn, White had to do a little research about the fibers and how they might be used. That, in turn, led to a pair of project entries in the 4-H Exploring Animals division. One display explains the two different types of alpacas and their fibers, and the second explains about how the fiber can be used. The first earned White a grand champion ribbon and another potential state fair trip.

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She also earned a grand champion in indoor gardening, senior champion in home environment and one champion and a trio of reserve champions in the 4-H Regional Dog Show that took place Monday.

In addition to competing with her dog, White entered a doggy teeter-totter in the dog project area. Built from PVC pipe, a board and small rocks like one would add to a fish aquarium, White made the piece this summer to add to the agility course she’s created at home to train her dog. The teeter-totter, too, earned a grand champion ribbon.

With so many choices on what to take to the Minnesota State Fair, White is teetering on taking the teeter-totter. She’s also thinking she’ll take a trip with her rabbit, and already plans to compete in the state dog show. If her alpacas win next week, she’d like to take them to the state contest as well.

Then again, she hasn’t yet shown her goats or New Vision co-op calf yet. The goat could possibly earn a trip.

White said going to the state fair is one of her favorite things about being in 4-H. She has competed with 4-H projects at the Great Minnesota Get-Together in each of the past three years.

“At state fair you get to hang out with your friends and not be so busy with all of your animals,” she said.

White will be a sophomore at Fulda High School this fall, where she plays on the girls basketball team and competes in track and field. Last year she was on the speech team and also a member of the Girls Who Code club. She serves as secretary of the Graham Lakes Braves 4-H Club.

Her experiences in 4-H have changed her life, and it’s thanks to people who have taught her and helped her along the way.

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“4-H has taught me a lot,” she said, noting the Tim and Kris Doeden family, who were always willing to offer tips and pointers when she began exploring photography, to her mom who taught her to quilt and her animals for showing her the importance of responsibility.

While she still has a few years to think about career options, White’s current dreams of being a food photographer — or owning her own business to do dog grooming and teach dog obedience and agility — both stem from her experiences in the 4-H program.

White is the daughter of Doug and Lorie White of rural Fulda. She has two older brothers and one older sister, all of whom were in 4-H in Osceola County, Iowa.

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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