13-Year-Old Tenley Bauman Embraces 4-H Learning Experience at Fairs

by Vicki Jedlicka, Extension Publication and Media Assistant in Lancaster County

Tenley Bauman
Tenley Bauman with several of her projects at the Lancaster County Super Fair. Photo by Vicki Jedlicka, Nebraska Extension in Lancaster County
September 5, 2023

Lincoln, Neb. —When many people think about county and state fairs, they envision carnivals, fried food and fun. Fairs also include hands-on learning through the 4-H youth development program. Tenley Bauman, a 13-year-old who lives in Hickman, loves the 4-H learning experience and recognition she gets at fairs. She started this year’s Lancaster County Super Fair with 56 static exhibits she worked on in the months leading up to the fair. During the fair, she interviews judged 16 of her static exhibits, participated in nine contests and exhibited six animals (rabbits and poultry).

Bauman finished the fair with a toolbox of new and refined skills under her belt. Practical skills such as creating computer presentations, baking, sewing, cutting and painting wood, photography, genealogy, research and care of animals. She also gained life skills such as goal setting, time management, persistence, critical thinking, leadership, public speaking and self-confidence.

Along the way, she had fun and hung out with friends and earned premium money! What could be better? Going on to the Nebraska State Fair! Bauman had 15 static exhibits qualify and she participated in the 4-H rabbit show.

Learning is Fun

“I just love 4-H and fair. It’s my favorite thing in the summer,” Bauman said. “I do 4-H because I get good learning experiences in a supportive environment. People are always willing to help you because they want you to learn. I like to see which projects are successful and where I have areas to grow. I’ve always liked being at the fair and I love being able to do new things.”

The 4-H portion of fairs is organized by Nebraska Extension. Youth ages 5 to 18 work with adult volunteers on hands-on projects throughout the year. Many youths then showcase their projects at county and state fairs.

Bauman is a member of three 4-H clubs: Southern Lancaster Kids which works on a variety of projects, Rabbits R Us which focuses on rabbits and 4-H Teen Council which focuses on leadership activities. These clubs usually meet monthly. Her mother, Hope Bauman, is leader of the Southern Lancaster Kids club. During the Super Fair, Rabbits R Us has a tent space where members can spend time together.

Hope, said, “Tenley just seems to shine when she’s at the Super Fair and it brings out the best in her. She loves everything about it and loves being in the barns and taking care of the animals. She loves working hard and being recognized for her accomplishments. She has good friends she met through 4-H that she enjoys seeing and hanging out with at fair. She’s always sad when fair’s over, and she can’t wait for the next year.”

As Bauman explained, after the fair season, she starts thinking what projects she might want to work on for the next year. During the winter, she brainstorms ideas and starts on projects that take longer, such as cross stitch. After the school year, Bauman and her mom sit down together and finalize a list of projects she wants to complete, then plan a tentative weekly schedule and what supplies are needed.

Preparation for Vet School

Since she was 3 years-old, Bauman has wanted to be a vet or zookeeper when she grows up. 4-H has helped confirm her career path of becoming a veterinarian. In addition to raising rabbits and showing poultry, she completes 4-H vet science projects and participates in many animal contests, such as livestock judging and quiz bowls.

“Showing animals really helps you learn a lot to prepare for vet school, because it helps you learn about flaws and defects in animals,” Bauman said. “There are so many cool opportunities in 4-H that I’m just learning about, which can open doors for great learning experiences and resume-building opportunities.”

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4-H | Nebraska Extension