The Smiths began competing in the Faulkner County Fair seven years ago. This year, they submitted 210 entries collectively.
Mary Alice and husband, Willis, home school their children, Noah Luke, 16, and Jonah Leo, 13. Mary Alice said her boys got involved with the Greenbrier Cloverleaf and Vilonia Hooves, Spurs and Furs 4-H clubs and that they have grown a great deal from the programs.
The family of four submitted various entries featuring items from their garden as well as their goats, chickens, rabbits, woodwork, crafts and other items.
Mary Alice said the family first brought their two dairy goats to the fair seven years ago and their involvement has since escalated.
"We’re totally devoted, anything we can do we do," Mary Alice said.
This year, the Smiths brought their 10 rabbits, seven goats and 16 chickens to compete in the Livestock and Poultry Division.
Mary Alice said she is able to balance a lot of the boys’ education around their fair entries.
Preparing for the fair gives the family the opportunity to provide Noah Luke and Jonah Leo with a "hands-on learning experience," husband Willis said.
Because the boys are home schooled, Willis said their involvement with the fair and 4-H programs allows them to gain social skills.
When her children first became involved with a 4-H program, Mary Alice said she was unaware of the amount of opportunities that would come along with it, noting she thought the program focused on animals.
She said Noah Luke has branched out a lot in 4-H, but that she anticipates seeing the same from Jonah Leo when he’s older and allowed to do more in the program.
Noah Luke said he was grateful for the opportunities he’s been given since his involvement in the program and he was glad he "started seeing the bigger picture" in 4-H and for the places he’s been able to travel because of his involvement.
The two boys have held leadership roles in their programs ranging from secretary to vice president and president. Noah Luke was also selected as one of Faulkner County’s Teen Leaders, which has given him the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C. and more.
(Staff writer Marisa Hicks can be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone at 505-1277. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)