Family tradition

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10-year 4-H members Nicole and Samantha Boram share their experiences

March 1 is the deadline for youth grades 3 through 12 to enroll in the 2014 Hamilton County 4-H program. For Hamilton Southeastern High School senior, Samantha Boram, the decision was easy to sign up for the first time in 2005.

“For me, 4-H has been a tradition because of my family’s involvement,” the 18-year-old Noblesville resident said. “Before I started, I knew I was going to be a 10-year 4-H member.”

Boram has been involved in sewing, fashion revue, fine arts, sheep and Junior Leaders throughout her 10-year 4-H tenure in Hamilton County.

“I’m trying to go out with a bang. I’m in two 4-H clubs (Fishers Showstoppers and Hamilton County Jr. Sheep Association) and I’m a 4-H Camp counselor,” she said.

In addition to her sewing skills, which earned her one of three 4-H Achievement Award at the volunteer banquet in November, Boram said Jr. Leaders has improved her confidence since she started the project.

“Definitely my leadership skills have changed a lot. I’ve been more of a leader in my school,” she said, adding she is a senior class officer at HSE.

Samantha has participated in the sheep project for the past nine years.

“All of the projects are rewarding, but the sheep project is the hardest work and where I put the most time into the project,” she said.

Her proudest achievement was winning the 2012 Good Shepherd Award through the sheep project for being a great leader in the barn through her work ethic and leadership to young kids.

“Usually it’s reserved for 10-year members. She got it in her eighth year,” Nicole Boram, Samantha’s mother, said.

The county fair is the culmination of a year’s work on 4-H projects. For Boram, she tries to soak in every moment of the week and is usually at the 4-H fairgrounds from 6 a.m. to 10 or 11 p.m. daily.

“I’ve been kicked out before,’ Samantha said. “It’s the best week ever – win or lose.”

“It’s by choice,” Nicole said. “They don’t want to leave.”

Samantha plans to attend Purdue University and study agriculture sales and marketing in the fall. She said the friendships made over her 10 years was her favorite part of 4-H. Samantha encourages anyone interested to participate in 4-H.

“It’s a place where everyone can get involved no matter what they are interested in, to create friendships in and make yourself better,” she said.  “I’d tell them it’s real important to take as many projects as you can to find your interests out and you should stick with it through the difficult and stressful times because it will pay off in the end.”

 Starting the trend

The Boram family tradition in 4-H began with Nicole’s father, Lynn.

“My dad would have been a 10-year member but his father died and he had to farm. He was not able to finish the 10 years here in Hamilton County,” she said.

Nicole was involved in 4-H in Hamilton County from 1980 to 1989. In 1988, Nicole was crowned the Hamilton County 4-H Fair queen.

“When I was in, it was a big deal to do the queen pageant. Everyone who was eligible did it,” she said.

Nicole, her sister, brother, niece, nephew and oldest child, Samantha, are all 10-year members. Her other two children, Sabrina and Brant, are on their way as well.

“She’s getting a lot of the same experiences I did. Being in the same county, this is what I remember and love,” Nicole said. “It’s the same show arena we were in, but I didn’t have animals. It’s a huge feeling of pride, especially with sheep. They do it all; I don’t know anything about them.”

Nicole said 4-H is not just about the lifelong skills learned or friendships created but the work ethic instilled in participants through their projects.

“I’m a teacher (at Riverside Jr. High School) and know a lot of the programs out there. I don’t know of a program that teaches hard work pays off more than 4-H does. It’s also about family first,” she said. “It teaches kids to work hard, learning by doing, and you get out what you put in. You have to work hard to get out what you want.”

“It teaches balancing time and prioritizing, not to procrastinate,” Samantha said.

 Enrolling in 4-H

4-H is an informal educational program in which youth “Learn by Doing.” Youth can learn life skills such as cooperation, leadership, decision-making, responsibility and more through hands-on projects in more than 60 different subject areas.

“There are so many options people can choose from. There is something for everyone,” Hamilton County 4-H Executive Director Susan Peterson said. “The higher numbers of enrollment are not in livestock.”

Hamilton County ranked as one of the largest programs last year with approximately 2,000 4-H’ers. Peterson said the enrollment fee is $25 with a maximum of $75 per family. Mini 4-H, for first and second grade students, does not have an enrollment fee. Those interested in enrolling can stop by the Purdue Extension Hamilton County office on the 4-H Grounds, 2003 Pleasant St., Noblesville, or visit www.ag.purdue.edu/counties/hamilton.

“This is all about the life skills,” Peterson said. “Kids are exposed to a lot of things they might not be learning anywhere else. For kids it’s the fun of discovering and having a good time.”

March 1 is the enrollment deadline for re-enrolling youth, but members can still sign up afterwards. However, the highest placing they can receive for projects at the county 4-H fair is a blue ribbon, and they are not eligible to advance to the state fair. Because the deadline falls on the weekend, Peterson said enrollment cards will be accepted late.

“We will take them through the business day March 3,” she said.

The Hamilton County 4-H Fair is July 17 through 22. For more information, call 776-0854.

Bret Boram Award

The Boram family honors the loss of one of its family members and the hard work and leadership of current 10-year members annually with the Bret Boram Award.

The award is named after Nicole’s brother who was killed 12 years ago in a snowmobile accident. Her sister, Dani Robinson, said that since he was not married, the overwhelming donations the Borams received from the community went to start the award.

“When Bret passed away, people were wanting to donate to something,” Nicole said. “He wasn’t an athlete or involved in school. 4-H was where he was able to be himself. This was his place.”

The award is based on nominations, which can come only from Ag teachers and 4-H leaders and volunteers. Nicole said one of the criteria is that the nominee must have done a project during their 4-H tenure in one of the same areas as Boram – woodworking, electric, swine or Junior Leaders.

“Dad was the one that engineered the award. My sister and I present it,” she said. “You cannot apply for it. You have to be nominated for it.”


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