The Cloverleaf Livestock 4-H Club of Fowler had a pretty strong showing at the 142nd Annual Arkansas Valley Fair, according to club manager Trish Leone.

Leone was excited to say that some of the kids advanced in their events to the Colorado State Fair, but she was equally excited about the enthusiasm and progress that other kids in the club showed in the time leading up to the fair and the fair itself.

4-H is more than just a competition, Leone explained: It introduces kids to concepts such as personal and financial responsibility and teamwork, and it emphasizes the utility of market sense and research.

For example, Leone explained that different factors are judged in lambs for different events. Show lambs rely a lot of their physical attributes, such as texture and quality of their pelts and their physical build, but depending on what judges are looking for, what's considered idea in those qualities can change.

Students of course learn how to take care of their animals, but it is inherently a trial and error process. A pig or hog might not have been given enough shade when it was raised, and thus its skin color or texture will be considered less than ideal when it comes to judging. However, Leone said, this is all part of the learning process.

Leone said that she thinks it's important for kids to learn that failure is natural and, to an extent, it's necessary for growth. Just because a livestock animal doesn't sell or do well competitively this year doesn't mean that that's the end of the road. Kids are encouraged to keep their animals, continue to raise them and work on improving.

Another aspect of failure that Leone thinks is valuable is that, like other aspects of 4-H, it challenges the kids to reevaluate their priorities and approaches to problems.

At the start of each year, kids are asked what they'd like to achieve by show time. Many of them "want to win," said Leone, but they don't always have a solid step-by-step plan to accomplishing such. As they go, kids pick up tricks from their fellow club members, they experience consequences of their actions and they learn how to avoid those consequences next time - or how to achieve them again but with better results.

The Pharr siblings, said Leone, stood out to her as having come a long way since beginning their 4-H adventures.

Garrett Pharr won a lavender ribbon and placed second in class in Junior Lamb Showmanship.

Isabella Pharr succeeded in multiple events, taking the Grand Champion title in Junior Horse Showmanship, Junior Western Horsemanship, Junior Western Riding, Junior Reining, Junior Ranch Horsemanship, Junior Ranch Cutting and Reserve Champion in Junior Working Ranch Horsemanship; she also was the Grand Champion in Junior Beef Showmanship.

Baylee Stowers was the Grand Champion in breeding goats and intermediate goat showmanship as well as other events.

Ryan Day was the Grand Champion in turkey raising, which he raised himself, said Leone.

Nate Nesselhuff was the Grand Champion in the livestock intermediate round robin.

cburney@ljtdmail.com