Stacy Copley
R-H Staff Writer

The Friends of Preble County 4-H presented the Preble Bulls and Barrels Blowout Saturday, Oct. 2, at the Preble County Fairgrounds to raise money for local 4-H programs.

The event featured bull riding and barrel-racing, in addition to offering "mutton busting" for the kids and fun-filled contests for the crowd.

Benjamin Brock was brought to the rodeo by his dad, Damon, and won a belt buckle for his attempt at mutton busting.

Benjamin said, "I would like to do it again because it's kind of fun, but not if you fall off!"

Damon explained this was their first rodeo and said, "He likes riding the sheep best."

Everyone had their favorite event.

Carrie Newsock was partial to the barrel racing, and commented, "I loved it!" adding, "It is my favorite because I used to do it."

As a result of declining funding for the OSU Extension Office, Preble County 4-H is currently operating with one staff member. Should the county see a further decline in this area, it could mean the end of the local 4-H program.

In an effort to deter the possibility of losing local funding, PC Friends of 4-H would like to raise a minimum of $70,000 to save the local Extension Office, with an ultimate goal of $990,000.

At Saturday's event, local farmer Kevin Cottingim was presented with a $2,500 award from Monsanto Fund as part of their America's Farmers Grow Communities program. Through the program, Monsanto has provided nearly 500 farmers in 10 states with $2,500 awards to be directed to a non-profit organization of their choice.

A representative of Monsanto explained, "We realize how important agriculture and the local community is and we wanted to give back."

Cottingim chose to donate his award to the Preble County Friends of 4-H to help with their goal of supporting 4-H locally.

Monsanto expanded the program nationwide to more than 1,200 counties in 38 states on Sept.1. Each county is presented an award every round. The second application round is from now through the end of December. The program allows for farmers to re-apply for an award every few months.

Funds would be used to hire an additional staff member at the local office, in turn, guaranteeing that if funding is pulled at the county level and the current position is eliminated, there would be enough money to keep the additional staff member and keep the local office up and running. Otherwise, the local 4-H program would be eliminated as well.

In the meantime, the addition of another staff member would allow the current duties to be split to better serve the community, according to Preble County Friends of 4-H Committee President Sara Sorrell.

To be in operation, the Extension Office is required to offer four 4-H programs: 4-H Youth Development, Ag and Natural Resources, Community Development, and Family and Consumer Sciences.

Sorrell said, "Typically, there would be one educator for each program; we have only one educator for all four now."

Representatives and members from various area 4-H groups donated their time and efforts to help with Saturday's event.

Ami Stevenson, with the Preble County Livestock 4-H Club, commented, "We are donating our time and efforts, our 4-H club is donating popcorn."

PC Livestock donated nearly 100 bags of popcorn and had 12 club members volunteer to help out.

Despite wet and windy weather conditions, hundreds of spectators braved the cold to attend Saturday night's rodeo.

Asked what brought them to the rodeo, local business owner Kathy Clapp and Erin Renner with Just Teasin' said, "We were both members of 4-H and try to participate in anything the fairgrounds puts on to keep 4-H alive in Preble County."

Jevon Crumley from Cleveland said, "I came to support my wife (Darlene) in the barrel race."

Some, like Crumley, came to support the riders while others came for the entertainment; however, many were there to offer their help and support in preserving local 4-H programs.

"I came out to support 4-H ... I lived on a farm all my life and enjoyed this," New Lebanon resident James Crowe said.

"They put on a great show," commented Bob and Beth Hull from Farmersville, continuing, "We are involved in 4-H in Montgomery County, but have been coming to the Preble County Fairgrounds for 47 years." Bob added, "4-H is a great program, it's good for the kids ... it doesn't have county boundaries - you just have to support it."

Overall, much support for 4-H was offered from the crowd.

"I think we need to support 4-H and raise money," said Debbie Mowery, parent of local 4-H kids, and added, "We live in a rural area where there's not a lot for kids to do. 4-H is a good program and teaches kids responsibility and a lot of different skills and keeps them out of trouble ... it gives the kids something to do and something to be proud of."

Amanda Cornett from Eaton commented, "I like how there is finally a rodeo in Eaton ... they should have it more often."

The rodeo proved to be a success, raising money for 4-H and providing lots of entertainment for spectators.

The SEBRA-sanctioned event was run by Triple H Rodeo of Brookville.