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By Ed Moreth 

4-H members advance to finals

Communication Days held in Thompson Falls, Hot Springs


Ed Moreth

OVER THE PLATE – South Side Sparks Matt Thurston demonstrates the proper form of a baseball pitch to judges Nancy Winebrenner and Sue Marsh.

4-H doesn't normally have a butler at its functions, but South Side Sparks member Andrew Wrobleski was the closest thing to it at Hot Springs on Sunday during the first round of the Communication Days competition.

Wrobleski's illustration talk, "Being Jeeves: What Was it Like," was a spiel about being a butler, which impressed judges Claudia Andrade and Kathy Conlin, and qualified him to move on to the finals this weekend in Plains.

Nearly 90 kids from the six 4-H clubs of Sanders County competed in the Communication Days competition Saturday at Thompson Falls and on Sunday at Hot Springs. Twenty-one of them from four 4-H clubs qualified to move on to the Communication Day Finals at Plains High School on Sunday. Forty-eight 4-H'ers did their talks and demonstrations on Saturday, while 38 competed Sunday.

The seniors who qualified for finals are: Kara Christensen - Hot Springs Wranglers, Claire Wrobleski - South Side Sparks, Hannah Warnes - South Side Sparks, Addyson Deal - Whitepine Happy Workers, Hattie Neesvig - Whitepine Happy Workers, Melodie Cook - South Side Sparks, Mikiah Cook - South Side Sparks, Andrew Wrobleski - South Side Sparks, and Anna Hafner - South Side Sparks. Qualifying juniors included: Ayla Rehbein - South Side Sparks, Moriah Champneys - South Side Sparks, Brooklyn Crain - South Side Sparks, Cooper Spurr - South Side Sparks, Noah Scharfe - Thompson Falls Mountaineers, Joshua Clarke - Hot Springs Wranglers, John McNamara - South Side Sparks, Brianna Horner - Trout Creek Mavericks, Anaelle Avilla - South Side Sparks, Ailie Avilla - South Side Sparks, Matthew Thurston - South Side Sparks, and Crosby Goode - Hot Springs Wranglers.

"I was very impressed with so many creative presentation ideas," said Juli Thurston, the Montana State University Extension agent in charge of the 4-H program in Sanders County and the primary coordinator of the event. She said they did excellent work and it was obvious that they had really practiced and prepared ahead of time.

Volunteer judges spent two days listening to the members' projects in eight categories: impromptu speech, prepared speech, illustration talk, video, interviews, promotional package, demonstration, and commercial. Thurston said there was a large variety of subjects presented to the judges on both days. On Saturday, Cloverbud Leah Bartlett of the Thompson Falls Mountaineers gave an illustrated talk on archery while Hunter Berman of the South Side Sparks demonstrated the making of an arrow. Trout Creek Mavericks senior Madison Chojnacky did an illustrated talk called "Hoof Ailment" and Brooklynn Crain of the South Side Sparks demonstrated saddling a horse in the junior division.

On Sunday, 9-year-old Eliana Clarke of the Hot Springs Wranglers showed judges Carrie Guenzler of Hot Springs and Ray Brown of Thompson Falls how to clip the nails of "Mia," her rabbit. In her first Communication Day participation, cloverbud Abigail Bauer of the South Side Sparks gave her first presentation on "The Ups & Downs of Having a Puppy" with her lab "Moonstone" to judges Ellen Childress of Plains and Justin Wright of Hot Springs. Seventeen-year-old Cody Hafner of the South Side Sparks did an illustrated talk on "How To Design a Tank." Twin sisters Ashlynn and Darley Franks, 8, of the South Side Sparks each did a presentation on geese. Ashlynn's was "How To Draw. Goose" and Darley went over the "Body Parts of a Goose" and even showed the judges "where the poop comes out."

Brooke Jackson and Josie Uski of the Hot Springs Wranglers teamed up to give a roping demonstration for judges Claudia Andrade of Ronan and Kathy Conlin of Thompson Falls. The team alternated information to the judges while Jackson demonstrated the roping of Uski, he designated "dummy."

Andrade said she was fascinated with the presentations she judged. She and Conlin were particularly impressed with the illustrated talk "The Grieving Heart" by 18-year-old Anna Hafner. "For her to come and share her personal experience in such a way that was so professional was not easy," said Andrade.

They also enjoyed Wrobleski's butlers presentation. The 15-year-old said he wanted to do something different. "It was just something that interests me," said Wrobleski, who got a book on butlers only two weeks ago and started studying the occupation. He already had the dark suit and shoes, but paid around $50 for a cravat and white gloves.

Cloverbuds had 2-3 minutes for their presentation. The juniors' presentations ran 3-7 minutes and seniors were allowed 7-20 minutes. Most of Sunday's presentations were done inside the classrooms, but Matt Thurston of the South Side Sparks took his demonstration outside for judges Nancy Winebrenner of Hot Springs and Sue Marsh of Thompson Falls. With his father, John Thurston, filling in as catcher, the 13-year-old boy showed the judges the art of pitching a baseball.

Ed Moreth

LASSO DEMO – Hot Springs Wrangler Brooke Jackson lassos her partner Josie Uski for judges Kathy Conlin and Claudia Andrade during the first round of Communication Days at Hot Springs High School.

Public speaking is known to be an intimidating experience for most adults and children alike, but the extension agent said 4-H members seem to thrive on doing it. In his first time to give a presentation, 17-year-old Isaac Warnes of the South Side Sparks gave a demonstration on painting fishing lures. This is only his second year in 4-H, but he said he felt comfortable telling judges Rick Balestri of Kalispell and Roni Mitch of Plains his demonstration, which went 27 minutes. Balestri said he was impressed with Warnes' presentation and gave him a blue ribbon for his efforts. For the Warnes, it was a family affair. Abigail Bauer, 6, did her puppy presentation, Kyla, 9, had a presentation on hiking. For Daniel, 12, it was melting metals. Hannah, 15, did hers in the senior division on piñatas.

The 4-H Communication Days finals will start at 1 p.m. on Sunday at Plains School, followed by an awards ceremony, which is planned to start between 4 and 4:30, depending on how long the presentations take.


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