No one is probably more excited about the Skagit County Fair than the 4-Hers. They spend all year getting their projects ready to show them off to the public. Whether it’s something they raised, grew, created, learned or trained, these projects are the accumulation of months, even years, of hard work. Anna Hansen, a 15-year-old member of 4 on the Floor, a Skagit County dog 4-H club, is happy to be heading to fair once again. A member of 4-H since she was 7, it’s a family legacy for her.
“My entire family it feels like has been in 4-H,” she shares. “My mom did cow 4-H. My dad and my aunt did 4-H as well. My mom’s father was a 4-H Leader. It feels like everyone was in 4-H.” Her dad, Brandon Hansen, was in cow 4-H in another county. It was through cow 4-H, in fact, that her parents met. “They used to hang out at the State Fair,” she continues. “And then they went to college together and that’s how they ended up getting together.”
While Anna does not do cow 4-H—though she said she would love to do cow 4-H as well, but she is not sure her parents will buy her a cow—she loves competing with her dog. It was neighbor that told her about the dog 4-H club when she was 7. At that time, she had a dog name Lexi, who was a large miniature Australian shepherd. “She was an awesome little dog that jumped into my car when I went to meet her and wouldn’t stop following me around, so we were a really awesome pair.”
Her current dog, Blitz, is also an Australian shepherd, whom Anna has had since the dog was three months old. Now 3 years old, Blitz competes in several 4-H competitions with Anna, including herding, obedience and showmanship. Anna also likes to mess around with trick training. “Showmanship is mostly about the grooming and your poise,” Anna explains. “Normally in AKC, which is the other version of showmanship, it’s more for adults and more about conformation and things like breeding, but in 4-H its more just about the grooming because most of the kids who are in it have just pet dogs, so it’s not like they are coming from fancy breeders or anything. So, you just have to make sure that you’re presented well and you dress nicely and the dog is groomed nicely and clean, things like that.”
Anna also does several other arts and crafts entries at the fair each year, including painting and floral arrangements. “I’m not very good at painting but I like to practice and mess around with it, just because I think it’s fun,” she explains. For her floral arrangements, she uses flowers from her mom’s garden as well as using a lot of native plants for native bouquets. “I like doing the native bouquets, I think they are fun,” she adds.
For Anna, and many 4-Hers, the club is a way to connect and make friends that often does not happen at school. “It’s great for meeting new friends and it’s a really good confidence booster,” she explains. “There were like a few years during school where it was just hard for me at school, just because of things going on. And I was a teenager and it was just really difficult so 4-H was a great way to escape, because I worked super hard that year and I did really well at the State Fair. And it was so good for my confidence just because things aren’t going as well at school so then I could have a place to escape, where I had friends that I can hang out with that maybe I didn’t have at school, so that was really awesome.”
She adds that she also learned a lot of responsibility while in 4-H, taking care of her dog and working on her other projects in addition to schoolwork. Anna is not sure where she would like to go to college, though Washington State and Colorado are both on the list, or what she wants to study—accounting, animals genetics and computer science are all interests to her—but she definitely has the skills she needs to accomplish whatever path she chooses. And she hopes to continue dog showing after college when she has a steady job…how’s that for a responsible young adult?
This year at fair she is looking forward to showing off what she’s worked on all year. “I love to display my stuff to the people because everybody loves the dogs and they get so excited when walking through, and all the little kids get so excited, which I think is really cute,” Anna says. Though she said she can’t pick one favorite part of fair, she loves the games she and her fellow club members play while sitting with their dogs at their club booth, including a “fair BINGO” they made up where they cross things off people might be wearing, like a Sounders baseball cap or red sneakers.
SkagitTalk wishes Anna and all the 4-Hers good luck at the Skagit County Fair!