Ready for the 4-H spotlight

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Margaret Plevak | July 27, 2017

JANESVILLE--It's good to be the queen. It's good to be the king, too, as Jack Elliott and Brooke Trustem discovered in May when they were crowned king and queen of the 2017 Rock County 4-H Fair.  

“Being fair royalty and king is a special award because it recognizes all of the efforts I have put into 4-H over these past 12 years,” Elliott, a member of River Valley 4-H, said in an email.
Elliott, 18, won his first fair ribbons at age 8 during his first year in the Rock County 4-H Fair horse and pony show. He got a little help from Mo, an Arabian, and Sassy, a Welsh pony.
“I had watched my cousin show in previous years and was very excited to be finally showing at the fair myself,” he said.
Besides the horse and pony project, Elliott's project areas have included rabbits, shooting sports, poultry, visual arts and food and nutrition.
“My projects have involved hard work, planning, learning, trying new things, consistently working with my animals, a lot of practice, some disappointments and some really memorable successes,” he said. “But it also has involved doing many things with other 4-H members and having a lot of fun in the process, a lot of laughs.”
Elliott will be showing in six projects at this year's fair.
He won five trophies at the horse and pony project earlier this month and is qualified for the State Horse Expo in September, which will be held at State Fair Park in West Allis.
He plans on showing next year, too -- his last year of 4-H eligibility.
Like Elliott, Trustem, 19, a 13-year member of Magnolia 4-H, started projects young.
“My first project at the fair was exhibiting a calf in the Little Britches contest on the last day of the Rock County 4-H Fair,” Trustem said in an email. “I began exhibiting in the dairy project as soon as I could; I remember being excited but nervous as a shy 5-year-old would be.”
Since then, she's been exhibiting dairy at the county fair, area district shows, the Wisconsin State Fair and national Holstein shows.
“A part of exhibiting dairy that is personal to me is showing heifers and cows that I have bred from my own cow families,” she said. “Last year, my bred and owned heifer, Landi, was the junior champion registered Holstein at the Rock County 4-H Fair, an honor I was not expecting.”
While she concedes her passion is with the dairy project, she also has been involved in foods and nutrition, clothing, poultry, youth leadership, home environment, child development, visual arts, crops and veterinary science over the years.  

“Being a part of the foods project has been a part of my family since my great-grandma was a foods superintendent,” she said.
Trustem remains active in dairy, poultry, clothing and food projects. Currently, she's a junior superintendent in the clothing project and has coordinated a Cloverbud farm tour and a dairy fitting and show clinic that benefits members of the county, she said.  
“To me being queen is a huge honor. For my entire 4-H and FFA careers, I have been working toward becoming a leader that other fair exhibitors can look up to. By believing in the 4-H motto, 'To make the best better,' I have strived to accomplish what I watched so many queens do before me: work to build the 4-H fair program to its greatest potential.”
Trustem said her main duty as queen at this year's fair will be welcoming all fairgoers and exhibitors. But there's much more.
“I also want to be very involved with all of the judging that will be taking place during fair week,” she said. “Coming from an agriculture background, I want to be present during all of the species judging, not just dairy, as well as being present in the Clover Corner, where fairgoers can observe demonstrations, listen to the Rock County 4-H show choir Heatwave and look at projects from visual arts to veterinary science.”
“As king, I will be handing out awards, working the meat animal and fur and feather sales, introducing the nightly acts/shows, assisting the superintendents in some of my favorite projects and generally being an ambassador for 4-H and the Rock County Fair throughout the entire week,” Elliott said.
He also plans to enjoy the fair, an event that holds plenty of happy memories.
“Oh boy, from going on the rides with my family on the midway when I was a little kid, winning goldfish, hanging out with friends in the rabbit and pony barns, to getting mini doughnuts for my pony and the crazy crowds for FGL (Florida Georgia Line),” he said.
The 2017 Craig High School graduate plans to attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison's School of Engineering, majoring in biomedical engineering.
Trustem will be a sophomore at UW-Madison, where she's majoring in dairy science with a certificate in agricultural business management.
At the university, she's involved in the Badger Dairy Club, the Association of Women in Agriculture and the Collegiate Farm Bureau.

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