Cushman combines 4-H projects with leadership program
Lusk – Harley Cushman is a 10th year 4-H member involved in several facets of the program, including the Wyoming 4-H Leadership Team, Junior Leaders, meats judging and a variety of projects.
“I am involved in the horse, cow-calf pair, steer and leather craft projects,” says Cushman. “I’ve shown in halter, but for the last couple years have only participated in the riding classes with the two horses I show. I break my own horses and use them on the ranch and really enjoy working with them.”
The cow-calf pair project consists of three different aspects. Members are interviewed on their management practices, required to keep a record book of their project and a judge looks at their cow-calf pair during the fair.
“I think it’s one of the better classes, especially when the judge explains his reasoning after looking at the cattle. We get a professional opinion on a sample of our herd. I always take what the judge says into consideration when making herd decisions. Those judges are probably the same people who buy your cattle, so their opinion is worth noting,” says Cushman.
Everything from chaps to a fishing pole case are listed when Harley mentions his past leather craft projects. He says these days he is so busy he typically only makes his fair projects, but those are chosen based on what he will actually have a use for.
“A couple years ago my dad and I decided to teach a leather class. It’s held at my house and any interested 4-H member can come out with their projects and work on them. My dad is a saddle maker, so he can provide a lot of help and ideas. I think it’s really beneficial,” says Cushman.
He also teaches a leather crafts class as part of his Junior Leaders responsibilities at Junior 4-H Camp.
Junior Leaders provides a variety of opportunities to 4-H members, and Cushman recently returned from a trip to Washington, D.C. made possible through Junior Leaders.
“I just got back from the Citizenship Washington Focus trip, and it was a blast. One of the best parts was getting to see D.C. from the top of the Washington Monument. I also met 4-H kids from across the nation, and we did talk about doing a state swap with Delaware,” says Cushman of the highlights of his trip. “Junior Leaders helped pay for that trip and make it possible for myself and other Niobrara County members.”
Cushman has also traveled with the Niobrara County meats judging team. In 2009 his team competed at the National Western Stock Show in Denver, Colo., where the team placed second. Last November they traveled to Kansas City, Kan. for the National 4-H Meats Judging Contest, where Harley was 10th in the nation and the team took third place.
“I’ve probably seen the most success with meats judging,” says Cushman.
To become one of seven Wyoming Leadership Team members, Cushman applied and completed an interview process. Team members are responsible for helping with state events throughout their yearlong reign.
“I’ve been at almost every state event this year. I attended the State Leadership Conference, went to both the state meat and wool judging competitions and attended the Showcase Showdown in Riverton. During state fair I will help with various shows and awards ceremonies.
“One of the best parts of being on the Leadership Team is getting know people from across the nation, and especially across Wyoming,” explains Cushman.
He’s also has encountered a number of public speaking opportunities both throughout his 4-H career and as a Leadership Team member, and his ability to speak in front of a crowd is something he credits to his 4-H involvement.
“I was always really nervous about talking in front of a group, especially when I didn’t know anyone. Now it doesn’t really bother me and I can get up and speak in front of anybody. I have to speak at awards ceremonies and most of the state events I attend, and it doesn’t bother me,” he notes.
Cushman will be busy this summer as he completes his final year of 4-H in Niobrara County and around the state as a Leadership Team member. Outside of 4-H he enjoys hunting, fishing and helping on his family’s ranch south of Lusk.