A Fierce and Show-Stopping 4-H Grill Off

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Have you taken the time to walk through a junior fair building at the county fair? Have you focused on 4-H members’ projects realizing their talent, dedication and time? The range of projects go from: large and small animals; sewing and textiles master; clothing master; cake decorating; rocketry master; robotics master; woodworking master; photography master; canning; ATV, automotive bicycle, tractor and machinery safety; emergency preparedness; home nursing, First Aid/CPR; health and fitness; visual arts; public speaking and communication arts; writing/print; child development; workforce readiness; composting; earth, water and air; energy; ornamental horticulture and the list continues.

The mission of a 4-H club is to empower youth to reach their full potential, working and learning in partnerships with caring adults. The vision is a world in which youth and adults learn, grow and work together as catalysts for positive change.

The four Hs in 4-H represent the four values members work on through fun and engaging programs:

  • Head – Managing, Thinking
  • Heart – Relating, Caring
  • Hands – giving, Working
  • Health – Being, Living

The 4-H Pledge…

I pledge my head to clearer thinking, My heart to greater loyalty, My hands to larger service, and my health to better living, for my club, my community, my country, and my world.

The projects presented by fine youth in our communities are a result of their dedication throughout the 4-H season. We only see the final project, but, there are many steps taken by the youth, their family, and, their advisor(s) to achieve that final project. A Leading By Example statement posted by New Jersey 4-H reads…The caring support of adult volunteers and mentors inspires young people in 4-H to work collaboratively, take the lead on their own projects and set and achieve goals with confidence. 4-H’ers chart their own course, explore important issues and define their place in the world. 4-H’ers stand up for themselves and their communities. These pivotal experiences build a foundation of leadership and skills for success in their future careers.

Becoming a 4-H Club member did not happen in my childhood. Fortunately, my son is a 2015 Cloverbud member with the Show Stoppers 4-H Club in Athens County, which means, I am involved as well. With each meeting this spring and summer the club was presented with a new adventure, a new lesson, a new community or club project. Bonding with the other club members and their families came naturally, and, we already knew several. I noticed early on that these parents cared deeply for their children and many had been involved with 4-H for years. From the two Cloverbuds at the tender ages of 6 and 7 to the week-away-from-18-year-olds these kids took care of one another.

The meeting and agenda schedule was laid out and included a camping weekend at Lake Snowden. When talk of each member’s final project was in discussion, the two high school seniors in the club were jokingly bantering about a grilling cook off to take place during that camping excursion. Well, the chiding turned in to plans for an actual event on the last evening out. At their ages, with their dynamic personalities, a friendly grill-off challenge, would make for entertainment for all that would attend.

Saturday night of the camp out finally arrived. A full-scale grill, for two, was brought in and placed underneath the tallest trees and in the driest area, which was another challenge, considering the continuous rain showers. The relentless rain created tiny run-off streams throughout the camp ground, a lake bursting beyond its bank, singing frogs, and, muddy kids. In the muggy evening air there was chatter, laughter and a sizzling camp fire. A large screen was suspended by a horizontal tree limb set for the late night animated movie. Three long tables placed end-to-end were filled with side dishes waiting to complement the grilled masterpieces. Hours before all of this activity the novice chefs introduced chicken to their individual marinades infused with their own secret ingredients.

IMG_3025The grill-off challenge was on! Josh donned a plastic shower cap as a chef’s hat, star spangled shirt along with a dark colored apron. His opponent, Levi, sported an official chef’s hat, went shirtless to flex those marinade muscles accompanied by a family apron. Eyes were on the prize and FOCUS was the name of the challenge! Levi and Josh were meticulous in their approach and did not rush the outcome…impressive for their age, but, a tribute to exceptional parenting. Two different personalities created two different marinades for their entrées. The entrees were presented, the 4-H master chefs turned off their burners and stepped back. Three non-partial taste testers were chosen: two tasters were next door campers and the third was yours truly!

At a nearby picnic table, with rain run-off trickling towards the lake where some the club members were kayaking, the tasters took their plastic utensils in hand…and sampled. One entrée was light in intensity, flavor domination was lemony and was refreshing; all three tasters envisioned this chicken on salad greens. The other entrée was bold in intensity and the flavor domination was barbecue and bacon. Both Levi and Josh cooked the chicken to sheer perfection and both were pleasing and enjoyable! All three tasters unanimously chose the bolder chicken as the winner that evening. Could our choice have been influenced because of the rainy weather, the humid air and the crackling fire? If we were taste testing during a warm, clear day would we have chosen the lemon flavored chicken? Truly, it did not matter, they were both delicious and both Josh and Levi were congratulated on their exceptional preparation and grilling skills!

Advisor Sharon Fulton proudly presented the first, and “maybe the last” as she stated, award to Josh Six as the Show Stoppers 2015 4-H Grill Master. Applause and cheers!

With youth such as Josh and Levi, the other Show Stoppers’ 4-H Club members, and 4-H club members all over…our future is in secure hands.


Courtesy Of: The Show Stoppers 4-H Club; Show Stoppers’ Advisor, Sharon and Jack Fulton; Assistant Advisors, Terry Beitzel and Tracy Crabtree; Josh Six and family; Levi Jordan and family; the two folks (from Columbus) camping next door; Athens County Extension Office 4-H Development Program;;;