Mercer County 4-H Dog club receives a grant from the Illinois 4-H Foundation.

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

The Mercer County 4-H Dog SPIN Club was awarded a Special Interest Club Equipment Grant from the Illinois 4-H Foundation. The Illinois 4-H Foundation’s 4-H Special Interest Club Equipment Grants funding program seeks to encourage innovative local Special Interest Clubs designed to promote the 4-H mission and support positive youth development experiences for youth. The 4-H Foundation expects to award $20,000 in equipment grants per year. A key objective of this initiative is to reach new 4-H audiences and to support existing Special Interest clubs interested in expanding their club. The Illinois 4-H Foundation was delighted to help the Mercer County 4-H Dog Club reach and impact youth in our area in new and exciting ways!

 At this year’s Mercer County Fair the Mercer County 4-H Dog club performed in front of the grand stands on Thursday July 14. There was an added element of excitement to the dog show as dogs, of all shapes and sizes, tried to pass through the 10’ agility tunnel, and over the jumps. This new agility equipment was purchased after receiving the equipment grant from the Illinois 4-H Foundation.

Currently there are 33 youth and their canine enrolled in the Mercer County 4-H Dog Club. The 4-H Dog club is lead by Lorraine Kinsey. Lorraine has been a 4-H leader for over 25 years. Lorraine explains how the Mercer County 4-H Dog Club became a part of the Mercer County Fair.

“The Mercer County 4-H Dog club is a specialty club for the 4-Hers interested in dog training and showing, we do obedience and showmanship.  Training classes start the 1st of April and we train every Wednesday until the Mercer County fair. Members that qualify for the State Fair Dog Show continue to train until the State Fair. About 15 years ago a good friend asked me if I wanted to have the 4-Hers do a drill with their dogs and perform at the Wild West Show with the New Windsor Drill Team, people like horses, dogs, and kids he told me. We did a drill and it was fun for all of us, now for the past few years we have been able to do a drill at the Mercer County Fair. We try to add something different so we had the kids and dogs go over a high jump as the last exercise and that was added fun for everyone. This year, thanks to the Illinois 4-H Foundation, we received a grant to purchase equipment; we bought same cones that we use for helping practice the figure 8 and other things. But the most exciting thing was the 10’ tunnel used for agility, the 4-Hers and their dogs love it, so now they go over the jump and through the tunnel a couple of times before leaving the track. We also wear T shirts with the logo- Mercer Co. Canine Team. The Canine team is sort of a reward for completing the 4-H dog obedience classes. Thanks for the grant from the Illinois 4-H Foundation, the equipment we purchased made it even more fun, more enjoyable and entertaining for the crowd and us. This year we had 15 4-Hers on the team, and dogs ranging from Blue Tick Coon Hounds, Great Dane, Papillon, Rat Terrier, Boxer, Border Collie, Corgis and mixed breeds. Hopefully we can perform the drill for the nursing home because they love seeing the kids and dogs doing something fun together, so it’s a win-win situation."

For more information on the Mercer County 4-H Dog Club or Mercer County 4-H, contact Tracy Pestle at the Mercer County Extension Office 309-582-5106 or email fowlerpe@illinois.edu.