Last week, Turner County 4-H’ers stepped up to help other youth with physical or mental challenges show animals at the Turner County Fair.
The iLead program got its start in Texas and made its way to the South Dakota counties of Davison and Hanson three years ago. This year marks the second year in Turner County.
Kaleb, 17, and Layne Lunstra, 15, of Lennox, have helped with the iLead show for the last two years at the Turner County Fair. The brothers have been helping with Special Olympics for the past eight years, so when iLead started in Turner County last year, it was a natural fit for them.
“We enjoy sharing the youth livestock experience with others who wouldn’t otherwise have an opportunity like this,” they said.
Through iLead, two 4-H’ers serve as show buddies with a mentally or physically challenged youth from the area. They do not have to be a 4-H member or live in the county. This year they had participants from Crooks, Parkston, Lennox and Parker.
A county 4-H leader committee of five adults coordinate the program, but 4-H’ers serve as show buddies, help with registration and hand out awards.
Chris Wirt, Turner County 4-H administrative assistant, said the show buddies help the iLead participants learn how to walk a sheep or meat goat before they show it.
“They learn how to walk their animals. It’s much more about the opportunity to participate than how well they do,” Wirt said.
This year, each kid had their own cheering section. The judge was great with the kids and they were all excited.
Wirt said 4-H members look forward to iLead and look forward to providing fun opportunities for other kids.
“Although livestock competitions can often be a place that separate the abilities of people, iLead is a place where there is acceptance and an appreciation of different abilities. The true joy, enthusiasm, laughter and memories are the lasting impact that this program has had for both the volunteers and the participants,” the Lunstras said.