10 years of work, one big blue ribbon
By by Dianna Wray
Oct. 14, 2010 at 5:14 a.m.
Calhoun High School senior Rebecca Crain couldn't suppress the beaming smile crossing her face as she caught sight of the royal blue ribbon dangling over her rabbit cage, declaring her Grand Champion in her division.
"This is 10 years of work, right here. I'd won reserve before, but I'd never made it to Grand Champion until now," Crain said, watching as three fluffy, white, red-eyed rabbits dug and nibbled at their feed. "I've learned so much."
Crain first entered the livestock show as a Clover Kid in second grade.
"I showed my sister's rabbits," Crain remembers, smiling.
The first time she had to walk out into the arena, she was a shy, quiet second-grader who preferred to stay out of the limelight; she was terrified.
Heart pounding, she kept her eyes fixed on the people she knew, got through it, and she was hooked. When she was old enough to actually compete the following year, she eagerly signed up.
Raising rabbits has been a learning process. Now, Crain easily ticks off the qualities of a good rabbit on her fingers - weight, softness of the fur, the amount of fat, she knows it all - but the first year she raised the animals, she made the mistake of naming one.
"That was hard. That wasn't a good idea" Crain says, grimacing slightly. She doesn't name them now, and after years of having scratches up and down her arms she says it doesn't bother her anymore.
Raising rabbits and being involved in 4-H has taught her much more than the ins and outs of rabbit care over the years.
The quiet little girl has been replaced by an eager, well-spoken young woman. Crain knows how much she has changed and she says it's all thanks to her involvement in 4-H.
"Doing this every year has taught me so much. Being involved in 4-H is really great for kids. it's taught me public speaking and leadership. The first year was really fun, and it's been great ever since," Crain said.
The feeling is bitter sweet as she finishes up her last livestock show. Crain, who is set to graduate this spring, plans to become a nurse anesthetist.
She won't be working with rabbits anymore. While she won't miss the rabbits, she'll miss being in 4-H.
"It's been such a big part of my life. It's been wonderful. My parents encouraged me to do this, and I'm so glad they did. It's been great," Crain said.