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Valparaiso Teen Lives a 4-H Life

Written by Neal F. Litherland. Posted in Uncategorized

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Published on September 07, 2010 with No Comments

By Neal F. Litherland

This summer was the 40th annual Indiana State Fair, which was held just a week after the Porter County Fair had finished up its own games and judging’s. For the 4-H projects that were being judged, 2010 was also a record breaking year.
There were 25 projects that were sold, and 13 of them set individual records for the organization and the fair. One project in particular, this year’s grand champion steer raised by Courtney Maxwell, was worthy of note as the sale set a new record of $42,000 for a single steer.
Indiana 4-H is my life, and completing my life goal at my age is amazing,” Maxwell, who is 13 years old, said after the sale. “I’d like to thank my supporters and my family for helping me throughout this journey.”
Maxwell has been in 4-H for five years, and she fully intends on remaining a part of it for the full 10 years allowed by the group. Raising and selling Jack – the record breaking steer – is just one of the latest in a series of projects that Maxwell has completed. In the past, Maxwell has done sewing and construction projects, in addition to showing other cattle and hogs for livestock projects. Though she has been successful before now, Maxwell’s latest award as Grand Champion seems to be the result of skill, determination and drawing on experience.
My grandparents were in 4-H, and so were my aunts and my parents before me,” Maxwell said. “My grandmother teaches me how to sew, my dad helps me with animals and my mom teaches me how to work with food.”
In order to achieve her latest win, Maxwell had to put in a great deal of time and effort. She worked with Jack, a steer who topped out at 1,333 pounds when he was sold, for roughly five hours every day. There was bathing, grooming, feeding and training him to walk properly and to show well.
For many people her age, five hours might not have seemed like that much of a commitment during the lazy summer break. Of course, Maxwell was also working on at least two other projects, in addition to playing softball, volleyball, basketball and training for track. It was not until the state fair had finally ended, her mother said, that Courtney finally got any sort of a break at all.
Maxwell is also looking towards the future after her record breaking steer sale. For instance, of the $42,000 that she earned from the sale, 20 percent of that went to the Indiana State Fair for costs, hosting, etc. That means that 80 percent of it – roughly $33,000 and change – went back to Maxwell.
The family split the money up between them, and Courtney used part of her winning proceeds to repay her father for covering her steer’s veterinary needs. The rest of her portion Maxwell has wisely invested into a savings account for when she finishes high school and it comes time to choose a college.
I’m getting ready for that step,” Maxwell said. “I just don’t know where I want to go or what I want to do just yet.”
One question that Maxwell said she has been fielding ever since the fair, is what she plans to do to top herself. To be fair, she nearly doubled the next highest sale that took place at the fair this year, and she set quite the record for generations to come. Unlike some though, Maxwell has no grand plans for attempting to do something even more impressive just because she performed well this year.
“I’m just going to keep showing animals and completing my projects as well as I can,” Maxwell said. “I also want to help my brother and sister reach their goals too. It’s important to help and teach those so that what you learned can be passed on.”
For more information about the Indiana State Fair and a list of 4-H winners, visit www.indianastatefair.com, or call 317-927-7500.

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About Neal F. Litherland

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All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Chronicle. Neal Litherland is a Valparaiso resident who has been a freelance writer for several years. A graduate of Indiana University, he holds a Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice. He offers advice on money-saving tips using common-sense tactics. He welcomes suggestions and comments. Contact Neal: neal@thechroniclenwi.com.

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