Achievement day highlights tradition and dedication

Representatives from the judging programs included, left-right, Kort Bannan, Sarah Krein, Francheska Bannan, Jayci Vetter, Levi ZumBrunnen, Emily ZumBrunnen, Liam Zerbe, Sarah-Jo Goddard, Delaney Vetter, Laurel Poage, Paul Kruse, Carter Bannan and Miranda Smith. Heather Goddard/Lusk Herald

LUSK - To an outsider, the culmination of a year of hard work in 4-H would seem to be county or state fair, but for those involved with 4-H, they know its actually achievement day. Achievement day is the annual awards and recognition ceremony for the work that 4-H members have put into their projects throughout the previous 12 months. Awards are given in various record book areas, for judging teams, herdsmanship, ultrasound and many more. Leaders and sponsors are recognized and another year of growing and learning is celebrated.

Niobrara’s Achievement Day was held on Sunday, October 22. In the 22-23 4-H year Niobrara had 63 active members in five clubs. The clubs range from Lance Creek with three members to Rollicking Ranchers with twenty-eight. 

A carry-in with everyone’s favorite snacks and appetizers were enjoyed by everyone gathered before the awards ceremony started.

The first group recognized are the “future of 4-H” which is the pre-4-H Cloverbuds. The Cloverbuds are an energetic group of members 5-8 years old. They are busy throughout the year participating in learning opportunities, Activity Days, Cloverbud Camps and Fair  There were 6 Cloverbuds this year, Cora Goddard, Jhett Jameson, Corbin Johnson, Leighton Miller, Chad Yeager and Phoenix Caffee.

Following the Cloverbud recognition every member and their clubs were recognized for the activities and the number of years they had been enrolled and the number completing their 4-H year by having an exhibit at county fair and turning in a completed record book. Fairview and Lance Creek both had all members complete record books.

In 2023 35 leaders volunteered their time and experience with the Niobrara county 4-H program. The first, fifth, ten and fifteen year leaders were recognized and all leaders received a certificate of appreciation.

Every year a “Friend of 4-H” is selected for their support and commitment to helping the 4-H program. This year Royce Thompson, Justin Lashmett and Pete Kruse were recognized for their help with setting up the 4-H banners around town. The Outpost and Shatto Smith were the other recognized friend of 4-H. The Outpost has provided breakfast burritos at the county fair 5K for the last three years.

This year’s 9-year members were Gracie ZumBrunnen, Hannah Krein, Taryn Miller, Francheska Bannan and Phoebe Allbright. These members were recognized for their many hours dedicated to their projects and completing community service projects as well as helping out younger members. The three of these young ladies that were present, ZumBrunnen, Krein and Bannan addressed the gathered and talked about their experiences in 4-H.

Every year the Wyoming State 4-H program recognizes those members who have been named members of the Honor Club. These members have accumulated at least 19 points over their 4-H careers. Points are awarded based on their 4-H participation and record book completion, earning up to 3 points each year. Each member receiving their Honor Club status will receive a $500 award stipend that can be applied to 4-H Congress, 4-H Conference, Raton, National Shooting Sports, International travel and more.  Those members recognized by the Honor Club this year were 

Colt Peterson, Hannah Krein, Royal Kremers and Wyatt Strauch.

both market and breeding.

Next up were the livestock record book awards. Champion Junior was Colton Yeager, reserve junior Dexter Kremers and third place Lane Clark. Intermediate champion was Miranda Smith with Laurel Poage in reserve and Cody Yeager third. Senior livestock record book was Kort Bannan, reserve Brittin Bruch and third place went to Taryn Miller.

The next set of record book award winners to be recognized were the animal record books including horse, cat, dog , rabbit and poultry. Champion junior was Will Kruse, reserve Paul Kruse and third place went to Remington Peterson. Intermediate champion was Miranda Smith, reserve Sidney Southwick and third Cody Yeager. Senior champion was Royal Kremers, Abby Glavan

 was named reserve and third place went to Colt Peterson.

In Family and consumer sciences members in cake decorating, crocheting, fabric and fashion, interior design, knitting, quilting and foods and nutrition competed with their record books. Champion junior was Levi ZumBrunnen, Reserve was Maggie Goddard and third Paige Staiger. In intermediate Miranda Smith was Champion, Emily ZumBrunnen reserve and Helen Olson took third. Senior champion was Gracie ZumBrunnen and Melody ZumBrunnen was reserve.

In the Creative Arts category (leathercraft, photography, ropecraft, woodworking, welding and visual arts) champion junior was Augustus Olson, reserve Will Kruse and third Paul Kruse. Intermediate champion was Sarah-Jo Goddard, reserve Helen Olson and third place went to Miranda Smith. There were no senior entries in this category. 

Under Leadership and Civic Engagement only senior projects had been submitted with Hannah Krein champion, Gracie ZumBrunnen in reserve and Melody ZumBrunnent third place.

The final record book section was Natural Resource Education. Champion junior was Will Kruse, reserve went to Liam Zerbe and third place Lane Clark. Intermediate champion Cody Yeager, reserve Miranda Smith and third place Carter Bannan. Champion senior was Kort Bannan.

The portfolio section of record books is judged separately from the project area. This is the area that documents the member’s leadership, voluntarism and development of life skills. Champion junior was Dexter Kremers, reserve Paul Kruse, and third Cole Pzinksi. Intermediate champion was Laurel Poage, reserve Miranda Smith and third Cody Yeager. The champion senior was Taryn Miller, reserve Brittin Bruch and third place went to Melody ZumBrunnen. 

The last area in record books for awards is the “My 4-H Story” these are overall awards. Junior went to Colton Yeager, intermediate was Helen Olson and senior was Brittin Bruch.

The Top Secretary Book and Top Treasurer Book were presented to Tavie Miller, a member of the Cloverleaf 4-H Club.

This year’s shooting sports program had many new faces, both members and leaders. Members participated in regularly scheduled practices, County Shoot, the Upton Challenge Shoot, and State Shoot. Niobrara County was the Junior Muzzleloading Champions with members Cody Yeager, Liam Zerbe, Will Kruse and Carter Bannan.

Top rankings in shooting sports were as follows:

Jr. Division


1st: Colton Yeager

2nd: Lane Clark

3rd: Will Kruse


1st:Lane Clark

2nd: Liam Zerbe

3rd: Colton Yeager


1st: Kane Keller

2nd: Paul Kruse

3rd: Colton Yeager

Intermediate Division

Archery: 1st: Cody Yeager

2nd: Miranda Smith

3rd: Carter Bannan

Rifle:1st: Cody Yeager

2nd: Miranda Smith

3rd: Kinsey Keller


1st: Miranda Smith

2nd: Cody Yeager

3rd: Nic Lytle

Senior Division


1st: Wyatt Strauch


1st: Kort Bannan

2nd: Wyatt Strauch


Scores were kept for members for their participation in practices, fair exhibits at both county fair and state fair and record book completion in each age division. 

Champion Senior Marksman – Wyatt Strauch

Champion Intermediate Marksman – Cody Yeager

Champion Jr. Marksman – Colton Yeager

Top Shot goes to Cody Yeager.

4-H Members exhibiting beef, sheep, swine, goat and poultry projects at county fair were evaluated daily on how well they cared for their projects, their ability to keep their pen area clean, helpfulness to other members and their attitude. It was great to see the members work together to keep their club’s pen areas tidy and help each other throughout the week. 

There was laughter, card games and music throughout the barns. Club winners will receive a cash award in each of the beef, swine, sheep/goat, poultry areas. 

This years winners for sheep and goat were Cheyenne River. Beef went to Rollicking Ranchers, Swine was Cheyenne River and Poultry was Fairview.

The 2023 judging season was a busy one. Practices started in February and went through the summer. Members participated in Meats, Livestock and Horse Judging throughout the year.  Participation in the judging programs not only increases knowledge but develops life skills in critical thinking, team work, responsibility and public speaking. All members who participated in judging were recognized for their hard work. 

Francheska Bannan, Brittin Bruch, Jaci Vetter, Emily ZumBrunnen, Sarah-Jo Goddard, Delani Vetter, Wyatt Strauch, Marlee Lang, Laurel Poage, Kort Bannan, Levi ZumBrunnen, Carter Bannan, Hannah Krein, Miranda Smith, Lainey Wurdeman, Liam Zerbe, Sarah Krein and Paul Kruse.

In horse judging, scores were kept over the course of the summer from the three horse judgings held.  Niobrara County was selected this year to host the Wyoming State 4-H Horse Judging Contest as well. Members evaluated halter and performance classes, gave sets of reasons and answered questions. The highpoint Sr. Horse judging individual was Hannah Krein, the highpoint Int. Horse Judging Individual was Sarah Krein and highpoint Jr. Horse judging individual was Paul Kruse.

One special horse award is the Barry Travnicek Memorial Award. It is presented to one horse member based on their involvement and improvement over the year. Members are evaluated at horse judgings, riding clinics, and county fair. The award winner’s record book is also taken into account.  The award recipient embodies the mission of the 4-H program. This year’s winner was Will Kruse.

This year’s meats judging program was larger than ever. Junior teams were:

Team 1:

Jaci Vetter

Delani Vetter

Emily ZumBrunnen

Sarah-Jo Goddard

Team 2:

Levi ZumBrunnen

Marlee Lang

Carter Bannan

Laurel Poage

Team 3: 

Miranda Smith

Lainey Wurdeman 

Liam Zerbe

Team 1 was 2nd High Junior Team at the State Meat Judging Contest in Laramie in April. Team 2 placed 4th and Team 3 came in at 7th. Many other individuals awards were received.  

This year’s senior meats judging team was Kort Bannan, Wyatt Strauch and Francheska Bannan.  They placed 4th overall.

At the 2023 Niobrara County Fair an ultrasound contest was held, evaluating the carcass merits of the market beef, sheep, swine and goats. This educational tool helps members understand more about the carcass quality of their project and how they may improve their animal care to enhance the quality of the product they are selling at the Market Animal Sale.

The market beef ultrasound awards were donated by WEBO Angus.

1st Place: Jaci Vetter

2nd Place: Kort Bannan

3rd Place: Quintin Bieri


The market lamb ultrasound awards were donated by Dan and Teri Goddard, David and Heather Goddard, and Kyler and Jody Copsey.

1st Place: Brittin Bruch

2nd Place: Carter Bannan

3rd Place: Kort Bannan


The market swine ultrasound awards were donated by Mark and Marci Bruegger in memory of their daughter Krista, a dedicated 4-H member.

1st Place: Miranda Smith

2nd Place: Colt Peterson

3rd Place: Wyatt Strauch

The market goat ultrasound awards were donated by Mike and Margaret Smith and John and Jessica Yeager.

1st Place: Miranda Smith

2nd Place: Carter Bannan

3rd Place: Carter Bannan

Sportsmanship is a large part of the 4-H program.  Every year individuals are nominated for recognition in this area. 

The first award is the Heart and Soul Award. This award recognizes an individual that put their heart and soul into their 4-H events, activities, contests and projects. The winner was noted as always having a smile on his face. He was willing to help when needed and kept the swine barn in top shape.  The winner was Dexter Kremers.

The second sportsmanship award is the Extra Mile Award. This was for a 4-H member that continually shows true grit by their everyday actions in 4-H. They help and support other members with their 4-H commitments and celebrates the success and achievements of fellow 4-Hers.  

This nominee helped younger members with their projects throughout the year and at County Fair. She helps lead not only her club but others by her examples of sportsmanship and is a pleasure to be around. Brittin Bruch was the winner of this award.

The final award is the Outstanding Sportsmanship award. This is for a member that shared the 4-H spirit and excitement all year. They celebrate the successes of others and kept their chin high even when things were not always going their way. This year’s winner is noted as being willing to jump in when an extra hand was needed. He didn’t hesitate to help when asked to show a chicken. This year’s winner was Carter Bannan.  

The Lorena Ellicott Award is presented each year by Allen Ellicott in memory of is mother, Lorena, a long time leader in Niobrara County. Senior level members are invited to apply each year with the winner receiving a cash award and their name going on the plaque in the Extension Office. This year’s winner was Melody ZumBrunnen.

As the 4-H year came to a close and a new one started, members begin planning for their projects and some have already started their record books. Enrollment is open for the 23-24 year. Some project areas have specific ownership or enrollment deadlines but many can accept enrollment up until the end of May. Anyone interested in 4-H is encouraged to contact the extension office at 307-334-3534.

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