4-H Week culminates in pet parade at Bethel

TITUS OUVERSON (left) and his brother Moses carried chickens in the 4-H pet parade at Bethel Lutheran Home on Saturday.

Nearly two dozen residents of Bethel Lutheran Home had the opportunity to enjoy the balmy fall afternoon on Saturday when local 4-H members organized a pet parade for their benefit. However, they weren't the only ones to benefit.

"With the pandemic, there haven't been a lot of activities," explained Colton Wicks, a 4-H Junior Leader involved in organizing the event. "Some kids didn't get to show their animals."

The pet parade provided them with that opportunity. At 1:30 p.m., after Bethel residents were wheeled to the sidewalk around the entrance drive with a generous distance separating them, 23 4-H-ers formed a parade with their animals.

It was the final event planned for National 4-H Week, which ended on Saturday. This year's theme was "Opportunity4All" and emphasized the benefits of 4-H membership.

Leading the parade was Cassidi Hale with a four-month-old German shepherd pup. With perky ears, the puppy pranced along on a lead which helped him to maintain an appropriate distance from the residents.

Hale, like Wicks, was one of the organizers. She said that in arranging the animals, they opted to organize them by size.

Leading the parade were dogs on leads and cats in arms. They were joined by rabbits and chickens, also held by their owners. Following the small animals were the larger animals -- a pig in a wagon, a couple of sheep and a couple of calves, followed by a horse with sorrel coloring.

Ella Fischer, with an Angus mix calf, was also among the organizers. She said her calf, Stella, was the champion overall at Lake County Achievement Days this year. When asked what made her calf outstanding, she indicated it was friendly.

"I worked with her a lot," Fischer said. "She's very tame and likes to give me kisses."

Wicks showed a Suffolk ewe, as did his brother Garet. Both were shown at Achievement Days and won purple ribbons. The brothers felt that holding the pet parade was a good experience.

"I think it lightened some of the residents' day," Colton Wicks said.

Jen Hayford, 4-H Youth Program Adviser, and Robin Wicks, Junior Leader adviser, were pleased with the work of the Junior Leaders in organizing the event.

"They took the idea and ran with it," Hayford said.

She admitted telling group members about another county holding a pet parade for nursing home residents but said she did very little after that. The Junior Leaders called the nursing home to make arrangements and did the planning.

"The only thing I did was send out an email for animals," Hayford said. The goal was to have every species represented.

"I was amazed by the boys who brought the chickens," Robin Wicks said. "When I was growing up, my chickens weren't tame enough to hold."

Both women felt the experience was beneficial for the 4-H members. Wicks noted that 4-H members who raise livestock put a lot of work into animal care but don't often get to share the pride they take in their work.

"They got to share their joy with other people and give them joy," she said.

"Anytime they can show their animals, they love it," Hayford added.

She was pleased that Junior Leaders chose to organize a multi-generational event.

"I think it was good for both sides," she said. "I know a lot of the residents were looking forward to it, and we had the best day ever for it."

"I thought it was fun to see all the younger kids involved," Robin Wicks indicated.

She noted that the pandemic has required the Junior Leaders to think outside the box in organizing activities. Planning an outdoor service project was a reflection of that.

"You can't just do what you normally do," she explained.

The 4-H members made two loops with their animals, giving residents the opportunity to view the animals twice. All managed to control their animals well during the parade, which lasted about 30 minutes.


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