August 17, 2002 | By: Michael Siebold, 4-H Junior Press Corps

What is the 4-H Horticulture Contest about? “It’s about lots of things. Say, if you were dropped out in the wilderness you would know what you could eat and what you couldn’t eat,”said Donte Blanton, a participant in the State 4-H Horticulture Contest.

For the past 15 to 20 years the State 4-H horticulture event has been helping 4-H participants learn at the Kentucky State Fair. This year between 80 and 90 youth in three different age levels participated in the event. There were 4 grand champions and 1 reserve champion in each age group.

The contest consists of four different levels: vegetable identification, vegetable grading, fruit and nut identification, and ornamental tree and shrub identification. The vegetable identification is not just about the parts of vegetables that we eat, it’s also about the other plant parts, such as the flowers and seeds.

In vegetable grading, the contestants rank the vegetables by quality. Fruit and nut identification is based on the seed, the fruit, or the plant parts (including sometimes the bark of the plant). For ornamental identification, the contestants are given leaves, flowers (if in season), seed pods, fruit, bark, or twigs without leaves.

According to Hardin County Horticulture Agent Amy Aldenderfer, one of the main draws to the event is, “That it is a good way to get started in horticulture. It’s also a good knowledge base if youth continue in 4-H or FFA at the high school level.”

The young junior age group (9-10) had Audry Dorris, Leslie Shoulders, Cassie Sorrells, and Josiah Hardesty as the grand champions and Elizabeth Cain was the reserve champion. The junior age group (11-13) grand champions were Lerin Katie Weesner, Bethany Long, Rebecca Cain, and Tori Wilson. The junior reserve champion was Kelly Shoulders. The senior age division (14-19) had Brent Fryman, Jerrad Howard, Todd Weesner, and Margaret Mitchell as grand champions, and Laura Thompson as reserve champion.