HomeHome / News / 4

May 30, 2023


Hoosier Perspectives: From brutally honest to out of the mouths of babes — here are some comments overheard during 4-H project judging. August 3, 2023 The late Art Linkletter made a living just

Hoosier Perspectives: From brutally honest to out of the mouths of babes — here are some comments overheard during 4-H project judging.

August 3, 2023

The late Art Linkletter made a living just letting kids talk. His interviews with young children in the early days of TV, first on “House Party” and then on “Kids Say the Darndest Things,” made him a well-known TV personality.

I am no Art Linkletter, and that’s not why I judge 4-H projects at county fairs all around Indiana. I judge a variety of topics, including photography, crops, wildlife, forestry, entomology, gardening, flowers, even welding.

My favorite judging gigs are what they call open judging, where the judge interacts with the 4-H’er. After all, 4-H is about leadership development, and talking to people, even at an early age, is a great way to get your feet wet.

Here are some of my most interesting interactions, talking with 4-H’ers. Names are omitted to protect the truly innocent. Enjoy!

One big bug. Me: “Tell me which insect in this collection is your favorite?”

10-year -old: “Oh, it’s the big waterbug for sure.”

Me: “Why do you like it so much?”

10-year -old: “I had lots of them to choose from. I raise them myself to feed to my pet lizard. He loves them!”

OK, no comeback for that one!

Brutally honest. Me: “This looks like good wheat. What did you do to help with this project?”

10-year-old: “Oh, I borrowed the wheat.”

Me: “You borrowed it? How does that work?”

10-year -old: “Well, it’s my neighbor’s wheat — ours wasn’t cut yet. Dad said it was OK.”

I can’t make these up.

Times, and rules, have changed. Me: “My, I don’t get to judge oats very often. Do you guys always grow oats?”

12-year-old hesitates. Mom jumps in: “No, we just bought them at the elevator this morning. Are they OK?”

That’s when I look for the rules person. But when I get a “we don’t ask, we don’t tell,” shrug, well, I guess you can get your 4-H oats anywhere, at least in that county.

Down to the wire … brush, literally. An older 4-H’er got a buddy to help him unload his welding project. It was so heavy, the Extension people asked me to go over near the door to look at it. They didn’t want to drag it very far. It was a metal chair made from tubular steel with lots of good welds. I touched a few welds to check them out.

Me: “Wow, it isn’t hot enough to burn me, but it’s warm. When did you finish this?”

4-H’er: “Oh, not long ago.”

Then I check his sanding and wire brushing job, away from welds. “Man, this is still warm, too.”

4-H’er: “Yeah, well, not long ago is like, I worked on it until I had to leave the shop to get here. Welding and sanding take longer than you think.”

A little help. OK, maybe a lot of help. Me: “Young man, this poster looks very good. Did you do it yourself?”

10-year-old: “I did a lot, but I had some help.”

Me: “Who put this nice border on?”

10-year-old: “Grandma.”

Me: “Who found the pictures and put them on the poster?”

10-year-old: “Grandma.”

Me: “Who found these cute little bats?”

10-year-old: “Grandma.”

Me: “What did you do?”

10-year-old: “Oh, I glued some of the little bats on for decoration — except when I got too much glue on them.”

Me: “Then someone cleaned them up?”

10-year-old: “Yup — Grandma.”

Read more about:

Tom J. Bechman

Editor, Indiana Prairie Farmer, Farm Progress

Tom J. Bechman is editor of Indiana Prairie Farmer. He joined Farm Progress in 1981 as a field editor, first writing stories to help farmers adjust to a difficult harvest after a tough weather year. His goal today is the same — writing stories that help farmers adjust to a changing environment in a profitable manner.

Bechman knows about Indiana agriculture because he grew up on a small dairy farm and worked with young farmers as a vocational agriculture teacher and FFA advisor before joining Farm Progress. He works closely with Purdue University specialists, Indiana Farm Bureau and commodity groups to cover cutting-edge issues affecting farmers. He specializes in writing crop stories with a focus on obtaining the highest and most economical yields possible.

Tom and his wife, Carla, have four children: Allison, Ashley, Daniel and Kayla, plus eight grandchildren. They raise produce for the food pantry and house 4-H animals for the grandkids on their small acreage near Franklin, Ind.

You May Also Like

Current Conditions for


Day 81º

Night 68º

Enter a zip code to see the weather conditions for a different location.

Autism does not hold young farmer back

‘God’s children are not for sale’

6 tweaks to make large fields as weed free as small plots

Farm Progress America, August 3, 2023

Few results from $9 billion spent on fish

OSHA targets warehouse, distribution center hazards

IRS issues ruling on estate tax, capital gains

Copyright © 2023. All rights reserved. Informa Markets, a trading division of Informa PLC.