Platte County

Local 4H clubs foster learning, community

By Lisa Phelps
Posted 5/1/24

PLATTE COUNTY – In a county-wide collaborative effort to give young people the chance to “learn by doing,” 4-H has fostered community involvement, ag and industry education, …

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Platte County

Local 4H clubs foster learning, community


PLATTE COUNTY – In a county-wide collaborative effort to give young people the chance to “learn by doing,” 4-H has fostered community involvement, ag and industry education, problem-solving, teamwork and leadership in Platte County since the 1940’s.

Today, there are 220 enrolled members in every community throughout Platte County, and there are 48 volunteers assisting in mentoring local youth or participating in planning and events. “We have 10 community clubs in the county and three project-based clubs specializing in horses, dogs, and shooting sports,” shared Stacy Buchholz, 4H Youth Development Coordinator, at a meeting documenting recent success of the University of Wyoming’s Platte County Extension Office. “We also do a lot of creative programming on Fridays as part of school enrichment. We have a great [4H] program in Platte County!”

Local 4H groups participate in local, county, regional, state, national, and sometimes international competitions or trips. “There are exciting opportunities for kids in the state. We have a great community in Platte County. Without your support, we wouldn’t be able to offer so much,” Buchholz said.

The program offers college scholarships as funds allow. This year there are three scholarships offered by the 4H program – last year there were six. “We have great partnerships in the community,” she added.

Two of the oldest clubs with the largest enrollment numbers, are the Sybille Livestock Club and the Horseshoe Livestock Club.

The Sybille Livestock club, whose motto is “To make the best better,” was started in the late 1940s as a transition from project clubs by the university extension at that time, according to 4H community leader Sharon Utter. She and Angie Kernan are current leaders for Sybille Livestock Club. There are currently 25 members, age 10 – 18, raising sheep and beef for the fair. Officers include president, Kayle Rasnake, vice president, Andrea Fox, and treasurers, Kreed Knutz and Breena Munn. Community projects undertaken by the Sybille Livestock Club include cleaning the pocket park, helping clean the fairgrounds before fair, serving meals at fundraisers for the leaders’ council, and making Valentines and Christmas cards to give to seniors.

The Horseshoe Livestock 4H club is “small but active.” Some families that participate are third-generation members. Ranging in age from 8 – 13, the members of this club are from the greater Glendo area and actively show home-raised beef, goats, and sheep. Leaders Jackie Bauder, Gene Daly and Elaine Daly mentor the kids in every animal project that can be shown except poultry: rabbits, cats, dogs, lambs, pigs, goats, beef, and horses. Aside from livestock, members participate in leathercraft, sewing, baking, cake decorating, welding, woodworking, photography, art, gardening, robots, Legos, public speaking, animal science, shooting sports and more.

Horseshoe livestock club officers include president, Clay Daly, vice president, Riley Britton, secretary, Carlee Hill, treasurer, Tra Bauder, reporter/historians, Kendra Bauder and Ruth Werner, game leader, Justin Daly, flag bearer, Airelynn Bekelja, and delegates-at-large, June Werner and Braidy Godde. These officers actively lead the community projects for the club placing flags on veterans graves for Memorial Day, and wreaths on veterans’ graves for Wreaths Across America, clean up the cemetery and park, host events for kids during the Fourth of July Ranch Rodeo in Glendo, put together “care packages” in December for over 100 residents in the local area, help residents clean up on their property, and organize free barbecues for the community and alumni.

“The community is very blessed to have these kids serving them,” Bauder said.

The Slater Gator 4-H Club has members from Wheatland and Slater communities. Mentors Molly Keil, Cam Huston and Abby Huston lead the 38-member strong club of 9 – 19-year-olds in many projects. While most of its members raise livestock of some sort, some exhibit small animals, compete in shooting sports, knitting, crocheting, photography, foods, leathercraft, woodworking, expressive arts and more.

Slater Gator club officers are president, Ace Keil, vice president, Whitnee Palmer, secretary, Halle Huston, treasurer, Allie Keil, and reporter, Camryn Mickelson. The past two years, club members have helped the community by assembling hot cocoa packets they distributed during the Valentines holiday to the students who receive Backpacks 4 Weekends.

They also host a guest speaker at their club. Earlier this year, they welcomed fellow 4H leader Elaine Daly from Glendo who shared information about GPS systems, their pivotal role in the ag industry and the variety of employment opportunities available in the field of robotics in agriculture.

Though the biggest and sometimes most visible group of 4-H participants have agriculture-based projects, there is much more to 4-H than raising and showing livestock.

Platte County Dog 4H club has 15 members aged 8 – 16 years old, from Chugwater to Douglas and the towns in-between, who participate in activities demonstrating an ability to communicate with their dogs. Dog Club 4H’ers learn how to show their dogs in obedience, showmanship, agility (obstacle course), and rally (obedience in a course with signs). These events occur every year, but students are always working at getting better and moving up to the next level of expertise. Some occasionally show in American Kennel Club competitions.

This year, 4H Dog club, under the leadership of Claire Klatte and Brooke Meek, are planning a Canine Good Citizen test at this year’s fair that will double as a fundraiser for the club. “This is a great time of year to join Dog 4H!” Klatte said.

While technically not a club, there is a project-based club for all things horses. Mentor and leader Sam Hammond explained, the Horse Bowl, Hippology and horse Judging group meets weekly throughout the school year and studies book knowledge about horses. The members refer to books used in several national-level competitions to learn anything from evolution of the horse to veterinary science, structure, diseases, uses, breeds, colors and almost anything you might want – or not care enough to ever want – to know about a horse. Then they attend knowledge-based competitions locally and nationally.

“We try to teach it all and it’s a huge undertaking,” Hammond said. “There are three main coaches who teach, and we do our best to expose the kids to the variety in the horse world and all the ups and downs associated with horse ownership. Our goal is to help kids and horses to have better lives.”

Horse ownership is not required to participate in the 4H horse group.

Horse bowl is a quiz bowl competition that is based solely on horses, like Jeopardy – with buzzers. Hippology has several sections of competition: horse judging, identification stations, a written test and team problems. Horse judging is comparing horses and deciding which is best, then presenting the reasons for your placings to a judge.

“All three of these games require a very useful set of skills and teach kids to think while under pressure, which is a very important life skill,” Hammond explained. “I’ve been able to see the kids who come learn and grow and I couldn’t be prouder of them. Platte County is raising a bunch of kind, generous and intelligent youngsters. As a coach I spend hours every week studying to stay ahead of the kids!”

There will be a Horse Bowl, Hippology and Horse Judging competition in Wheatland on May 11, after which the group will take a break in studies until the fall.

“Often times people equate the county fair with 4-H, however the county fair is just one opportunity a majority of members utilize to showcase their projects,” Molly Keil said.

Buchholz encouraged anyone wanting to help with the extension programs to get involved as a volunteer. “You don’t have to be an expert, and if you aren’t comfortable with kids, you can join a committee to help with fundraising and scholarships. Donations are always helpful – we need funding to help send kids to competitions,” Buchholz. 

Other 4H clubs throughout the county are: Broken Trail, Chug Valley, Dawagloes, Guernsey Go-Getters, Kountry Kids, Platte County Shooting Sports Club, Rocky Mountain Renegades, Wheatland’s Finest, Wheatland Roots & Boots, Platte County Leadership Team, and Cloverbuds.

Anyone in the county can join a club at any point in the year, though some projects do have deadlines in order to participate in the current year. For more information, contact a club leader or Buchholz at the extension office at the Platte County Fairgrounds, by calling 307-322-3667, or by emailing