Every year I learn much from the Steele County 4-H students. Whether it's something new about an animal they are showing or a food they prepared, an old dog (me) can learn something new. This year I've really noticed how busy each of these kids are and their willingness to try something new.

One 4-Her is showing 33 birds at the Steele County Free Fair with a couple of new breeds among them. Another has eight general projects and could rattle through them in rapid fire succession. The same students that show the same project every year also are happy to try something new.

Gavin shows pigs and chickens each year. But this year he decided to show a peacock because he thinks it's a cool bird. The Owatonna Middle School student added that you don't want this bird to get away from you because it's worth a lot of money.

A younger sister Jorrie said her favorite thing to do with her hog project is wash the animal. And first-grade sister Remi is showing hogs and chickens as a Clover Bud 4-Her but really likes bunnies best.

Aubree was showing a pigeon for the first time at the encouragement of her grandfather. Chloe shows pigs each year and sticks with what she knows best.

Maggie is really busy with off-season sports all summer and now with the start of volleyball but is still enthusiastic about the dairy animal she is showing. She lives in the city but has been showing dairy for many years. Anthony is about to go off to college and limited his general projects this year, but still is showing multiple categories of dairy.

Makenzie worked with wood projects for the first time, saying she needed some furniture for her room. She built a table and a coat rack and learned a lot about woodwork.

Lilly, Kellen and Isabella are a few of the kids who have learned how to handle and show cattle through the cow camp program. They now spend plenty of time in the new Wayne & Betty Kubicek Family Cattle Haven building tending to the animals and being with their friends.

Some students become real experts in their field by doing the same project each year, yet those same students will stray into different areas and aren't afraid to tackle a new concept.