Special to the Tribune-Star
TERRE HAUTE —
The phrase “giving back” is often quoted but sometimes lacks personal follow through. For 19-year-old Cory Edge, giving back is his family’s philosophy and one that he personally implemented last summer following his 10 years in 4-H.
Edge’s stellar 4-H career began when his family — he, his father Doug, his mother Lisa and his brother Tanner — lived in Madison County. In 2006 the family moved to Vigo County where the boys quickly became involved in 4-H. Over the years Cory’s projects included models, oil painting and even an action demonstration involving a drum set made from trash cans. But his project passion centered on livestock.
“My love is livestock. I did beef for eight years and sheep and swine each for 10 years,” Edge said.
His commitment to livestock fueled his results in the 2011 and 2012 fairs. “2011 was my best all-around county fair,” Edge said. “I won Reserve Grand Barrow, Grand Champion Breeding Ewe and Grand Champion Ram, and I won senior round robin showmanship. 2012’s fair was a blessing too, because I got to be in round robin and I’ve had a goal to be in it every year.”
Initially, 4-H didn’t come first in his life. “I was big into sports when I was younger in grade school and junior high. I was worried whether that was what Mom and Dad wanted me to do. I also debated whether I wanted to be in 4-H. It was hard to do both because of schedules,” Edge said.
“My parents told me to do whatever makes me happy and they’ll support me,” Edge said. “I knew my true passion was in the livestock industry and that helped spark a permanent interest for me. Mom and Dad loved it too, so they helped me to develop a work ethic I don’t think I could get anywhere else. Mom and Dad both grew up on farms, Mom with sheep and hogs, and Dad with Simmental cattle. They knew 4-H is fun and could be done as a family. I wouldn’t be successful if my parents hadn’t supported me the way they have.”
One benefit for youth showing livestock at the fair is opting to sell one of their animals in the livestock auction at the end of the fair week. The money the youths receive often goes toward the expenses of raising the animals and toward future college expenses. Vigo County 4-H, administered through the county Purdue Extension office, awards several scholarships to 4-H youth during the fair’s achievement night.
During last summer’s fair, Edge and his parents sat down after the sheep show and reminisced over his accomplishments.
His personal blessings encouraged him to bless others. “I told them I’d like to figure out a way to give back in some way to fellow 4-H junior leaders or to younger members,” Edge said.
“We went through several ideas and figured the easiest way was to auction one of my [sheep] wethers and give that money toward Vigo County 4-H scholarships. My intention was announced at the auction and I’m so thankful that Ceres Solutions purchased my wether. Then I was surprised when several others added on additional dollars. Tom and Cheryl Fitzpatrick, Mike McKee, Dr. Floyd Lee and Gary Gottardi, and Steve Marrs all contributed. It’s so incredible, and I’m so grateful the money will help other kids. I’ve learned how 4-H comes full circle.”
Lisa and Doug believe such appreciation for sharing with others begins when children are young. “Our philosophy in life and giving back to our community starts when you’re young. We feel like if you’re going to take and learn something along the way then give back for someone else down the line,” Lisa said. “Doug and I were taught that as well. We really wanted to teach Cory and Tanner, who’s 15, what hard work, dedication and being grateful is all about.”
“Cory wanted to do something special, and we encouraged him to use the auction money and make the community a part of it as well. Great community leaders stepped in, and that help will mean so much to the 4-H kids.”
Youth Extension Educator Sarah Gaughan is impressed with the character Edge demonstrated with his auction decision. “First and foremost, what Cory did for the 4-H program shows a lot of leadership. His mindset was to give back, and we think that’s incredible. As a result, two more scholarships will be given under the 4-H umbrella during the fair’s annual achievement night.”
Edge’s love of livestock enabled him to receive a livestock judging scholarship from Black Hawk College – East Campus at Galva, Ill. His participation in the judging team is providing travel all over the country while learning the livestock industry.
“I’m learning animal evaluation, decision making, critical thinking and public speaking. I plan to finish Blackhawk’s two-year program, finish my bachelor’s in animal science at Purdue or Iowa State, then apply to vet school to be a large animal vet and eventually open my own practice.”
Edge wants people to understand 4-H is not just about growing corn or raising animals. “4-H is about leadership experience and often developing young leaders for the ag industry. Cooking, making models, or posters about your dog all comes back to ag and how we put food on your table and clothes on your backs.
“It doesn’t say anywhere in 4-H’s rules that it’s just for farm kids. It’s about our pledge: hearts, hands, head and health. It’s for everyone. Look at the opportunities 4-H has to offer and consider how you can bless others with what you learn.”