In the process of making a felt vest, 9-year-old Abbey Horn of McCoy learned that people in Tajikistan, on the other side of the globe, use felt to make yurts and line irrigation ditches.
Horn, who made the vest with wool from her lamb, Minnie, was among the Routt County children who presented a diverse range of projects during 4-H Exhibit Day, held Saturday at Soroco High School.
Participants, ranging in age from 8 to 18, lined the halls of the high school as they waited to show judges more than 250 projects ranging from cooking demonstrations and cake decorating to veterinary science and forestry.
"The exhibit really showcases the variety of 4-H," said Debbie Alpe, a Colorado State University extension agent with a focus in 4-H and family and consumer sciences.
Horn, who plans to show her lambs at the Routt County Fair next week, also sewed a pair of Italian wool pants and vest and demonstrated to judges how to remove a variety of stains from the material.
While making the garment, she investigated how much an Italian wool suit would cost to buy, and realized it would be very expensive, mother Brita Horn said.
"It's not just the project, it's what comes out of it," Brita Horn said about her daughter's understanding the different aspects of the sheep market.
Sarajane Rossi, 13, who has been in 4-H for five years and goes to school in Oak Creek, tries to choose a different category each year for her project. This year, she decided to bring her computer skills up to speed by making a birthday card using Microsoft Word and clip art.
"I learned so much about my computer, I was so psyched about it," Rossi said as she waited outside the judges' door.
While almost any project a child wants to try will fit into a 4-H category, each must adhere to certain guidelines and include a workbook explaining the process.
Judges, many of whom have a lifetime of 4-H experience, look for participants' "depth of experience," which is revealed in how much they enjoyed the project, what they learned, how they overcame challenges and how they presented it, Alpe said.
Patience was an important element of 14-year-old Dustin Parrott's project, a soft leather gun case made of shack leather, artificial shearling and skirting leather.
While Dustin enjoyed basket-stamping the leather, sewing proved to be more of a challenge.
"It took us a while to get the sewing machine down," said Parrott, who lives in Hayden.
The 4-H Cloverbuds, who are between 5 and 7 years old, got a taste of the competition as they presented small "show and tell" projects to the judges. Exhibit Day also included a fashion competition and show where students modeled their clothing creations.
Older participants are divided into three categories -- juniors are ages 8 to 10, intermediates are ages 11 to 13, and seniors are ages 14 to 18.
Top finishers from each age group and in each project category are eligible to represent Routt County at the Colorado State Fair in Pueblo.
Organizers usually end up sending about 60 projects to the state fair and many of those projects return with awards, Alpe said.
Most students don't attend the state fair exhibit day because it takes place Aug. 21, when many 4-H students have animals in the livestock sale at the Routt County Fair.
This is the first year 4-H Exhibit Day, which marks the arrival of the Routt County Fair, was held in Oak Creek. Traditionally, it has been held at Hayden High School, but organizers wanted to spread some of the fair events throughout the county.
Parent Barb Poulin, who lives near Steamboat, noted the move was only fair because many 4-H participants live in South Routt and most fair events take place in Hayden.
"It makes sense to spread it out," Poulin said.
While many students took home ribbons from the exhibit, the feeling of accomplishment from setting goals and completing their projects will likely last longer than any awards.
Brita Horn said even though her family hardly can remember which awards her daughter won for which projects in the previous years, "she has the reward of finishing the project and doing well."