by Richard Smith, former extension agent
Now that took care of the 2013, Saratoga County Fair and Caitlyn had the time of her life working with all the farms that exhibited show cows and surrounding herself with all the 4-Hers, even if she couldn’t show as a 4-Her. Caitlyn took everything in at the fair and participated whenever she could. I have been around the Saratoga County Fair long enough to know she was a special young lady and the 2013 fair was only the beginning of Caitlyn’s career. We had not heard the last of her yet.
Every year the Saratoga County 4-H Dairy Club sponsors a Calf Scholarship Program. Running this program was simply one of the more enjoyable aspects of my job and 2014, although my last because of retirement, was another thrilling year. All applicants need to submit a written essay explaining a few things about themselves to include why they want a calf and what they would do to care for the calf. Long before the deadline was due an essay arrived at my office from Caitlyn. Her essay was personally written and extremely heartwarming detailing all the opportunities that having her very own calf would provide. In the end Caitlyn was chosen as the 2014 Saratoga County 4-H Dairy Club Calf Scholarship winner. The calves are supplied by a former winner who pledges to reward a younger 4-H’er a calf which in the end fulfills their obligation to the program. Stephanie McBath, who was herself a winner back a few years, graciously presented a calf to Caitlyn in late May this year. Speaking of going places, Stephanie has enjoyed being chosen master showman at last year’s fair and rounded out this year being crowned the 2014 Saratoga County Dairy Princess.
Caitlyn and her beloved calf “Welcome Tango Louie” are the new names on the block and they hit the show trail at this year’s Saratoga County Fair. Lulu, as Caitlyn lovingly calls her calf, share so much beyond having birthdays one day after the other. There have been the long hours together getting ready for the fair. The daily care, grooming, and training required so both Caitlyn and Lulu would present their best at the show during the fair.
Together they competed in every class they were eligible for and I’m proud to report they did outstanding. For their first time ever together in the showmanship class for Caitlyn’s age bracket she placed fourth. It was a large group of outstanding 4-H’ers in the class and particularly noteworthy it was the four first-time showmen that placed as the top four in the class. Caitlyn and “Lulu” made a great team and it was rather apparent that their hard work over the months before the fair was paying off.
The Saratoga County Fair was not to be their only triumph together. It was clear to all the leaders of the Saratoga County 4-H Dairy Club and others not least of them Caitlyn’s parents that this is only the beginning of what will be a long and meaningful relationship and rewarding experiences.
Off to the Tri-County Holstein Show they went. Again all full of smiles and attention to detail the combination of Caitlyn and “Lulu” proved to be magic in the ring. This dynamic dual placed third in the beginners showmanship class among many of the finest individuals representing three counties in New York State, owning some of the best Holstein cattle in the industry.
It is easy to see why working with a program that gives young 4-H’ers the opportunity to spend their summers working with a Holstein heifer calf could be an enjoying endeavor. What made my job so rewarding was I got to help foster a young 4-H’er to fulfill a dream of a lifetime of owning their own calf. Now that responsibility gave me a genuine purpose to my work. But when the youngster is Caitlyn VanDeusen and the opportunity was uniting her with “Lulu”, her very own calf”, well that is nothing short of priceless.
For 10 years I had the unique pleasure to oversee a program that provided unbelievable opportunities to truly outstanding 4-H’ers that had such a remarkable and powerful outcome. When I witnessed those eager-eyed youngsters hoping to be chosen as the calf scholarship winner was in itself a thrill, but to see the winners showing at the fair their efforts was by no means the finest moments. Having been only a small part of the total experience, mentoring these youngsters until the culmination of their project when they themselves reward yet another young starry-eyed 4-H’er receives their golden opportunity is something I’ll always treasure and will honestly miss.
The Saratoga County 4-H Dairy Club Calf Scholarship Program was the idea of many of the agricultural leaders and volunteers to provide opportunity for more 4-H’ers to have all the experiences, opportunities, and responsibilities of owning their very own calf. It was well established before my tenure as the extension agent in Saratoga County and I have no doubt of continuance and success for many years to come.
Caitlyn VanDeusen is this year’s bright dynamic scholarship winner and she follows the path of so many others I had the privilege of knowing and nurturing over the years. My congratulations go out to Caitlyn as she did everything written in her winning essay, as I knew she would.
Caitlyn’s parents, Russell and Virginia VanDeusen, are very proud of her and been totally supportive of her in her endeavors. Her parents are involved in agriculture themselves in their own work, but now seeing their love of the industry expressed by their child has to be powerful and loving inner peace of fulfillment to them.
Calf Scholarship Program is a 4-H’ers dream come true
by Richard Smith, former extension agent