TROY — As the 2021 Miami County Fair draws to a close, Trenton Brown wraps up his 13th and final year of 4-H participation.
“It’s sad, in a way, but I’m more glad I had the experience of it,” Brown said. “I’ve had my fun, but now it’s time for me to move on and move into my next chapter.”
While Brown’s family has an acre of land they live and work on, his grandfather and uncle are farmers, and the culture of farming he grew up in contributed to his interest and participation in 4-H and the Miami County Fair. The people, and the experiences around 4-H and the fair, are what has kept him involved throughout the years.
“Meeting so many people and making a lot of lifetime friends through it has been the best part about it,” Brown said. “Being able to show animals with all the friends you’ve made and having that competitive aspect, as well as having animals at your house that you wouldn’t normally have — it’s always been a lot of fun, and I have those experiences because of 4-H.”
When he first started out, Brown showed hogs for two years. He then switched to goats, showing for a year, and remembers doing a woodworking project somewhere between it all. Eventually, he tried out showing chickens and ducks and found that he liked poultry the best, and stuck with that for the remainder of his time in 4-H.
“I think it was just the one that fit me the best, personally. I had a lot of fun showing the poultry, versus the hogs and the goats. It was just the one that I felt was personally best for me, and once I got into it, I liked doing that a lot more than what I had done in the past,” Brown said.
Prep work for fair has usually taken Brown six to seven weeks; he works with his chickens and ducks each day, getting them comfortable and familiar with him, making sure they have the right food for their size, plenty of water, and plenty of space for them to run. Much of the focus is on their diet, to make sure they’re growing properly.
While Brown feels bittersweet about the chapter on his 4-H career ending, he says that he hopes future participants in 4-H can find a similar positive experience.
“Hopefully the 4-H-ers of the future have as much fun and like it as much as I did,” Brown said.
One of the most valuable things Brown has taken from his 4-H experience is the consistency of working with animals and keeping on top of things like maintaining records and a set schedule with the animals, organization, as well as learning how to network and maintain friendships with others. His advice to people starting out in 4-H is not to be afraid to try new things.
“I wouldn’t always stick to one animal that you start with. Give the other ones a try, and always be really open-minded with things. Things may not always go your way in a show, or things might go wrong at home while you’re raising them, and you just gotta figure out what to do from there, learn from it and do better next year,” Brown said.
Brown is a graduate of Tippecanoe High School and is studying biology at Whittenberg University with a minor in education. His goal, currently, is to become a biology teacher at the high school and middle school level.