Ashley Fenning

ALLIANCE — Yesterday Ashley Fenning finished up her first full week as the new 4-H assistant for Box Butte County.

She is no stranger to 4-H as she was a member of the Morrill County 4-H program for 10 years. Showing sheep all 10 years, cattle for seven or eight and horse one year. Stating that her highest achievement was winning Large Animal Round Robin in 2010.

“It was the first time I got in it too. Funny story about that, my steer was pretty nice that year but when it was time to start round robin he was the meanest thing ever. We had to ask them if I could use my brother’s steer because he would have hurt somebody. He seriously was running circles around me and I could not get him to stop. It all worked out and I won but that was kind of funny,” laughed Fenning.

Fenning, whose maiden name is Stevens, recently wed Jacob Fenning this past October. The newlyweds live in a farmhouse outside of Bayard where he farms his land and also helps on his family’s farm.

She grew up in Bridgeport where she graduated from high school in 2012. After graduation she received a scholarship from Western Nebraska Community College to play basketball. She attended school there for two years before receiving another scholarship from Grand Junction to play basketball at Colorado Mesa. After five and a half years of collage she received a Bachelors in Science and General Biology from Chadron State College where she was able to wrap up her last year.

When she accepted the position with Box Butte County she was employed as the office manager at the Extension Office in Morrill County and last year she interned in Scotts Bluff County with their 4-H program.

“I know stuff about 4-H but I’m finding that they do things different here so I’m learning. I have learned about how Morrill and Scotts Bluff counties do their stuff and now I have to learn how Box Butte does theirs,” stated Fenning.

Noting that so far we do things “a lot different” here.

“There’s a lot of stuff that’s very different but it’s a good thing. Their different stuff is very well run by their volunteers or the council or the livestock committee. That’s very helpful … I don’t want to say that it’s overwhelming but when you think about it it just kind of seems overwhelming. I just have to stop and tell myself to take it one day at a time and realize that there is always somebody there to help. Carol (Kleinsasser) is going to be a great help, John’s (Thomas) going to be a great help, the council, all the livestock people, and of course all of the volunteers. … There are some areas that I’m not too familiar with but I’ll figure it out. Other people are experts in those areas so they can be in charge,” she laughed. “I’m going to learn to be a great cheerleader!”

“There’s a lot of support for the fair and the 4-H program here. There’s a lot of community interest and people to help so that helps so much and is so nice. In Morrill County they are starting to get better with volunteering but it was definitely difficult because there’s basically only four of us that did the fair last year,” noted Fenning.

Having helped with back-to-back fairs she stated that one thing she learned is, “It’s not just the 4-H assistant’s job to run the show, and everybody has to do their part.”

“And I think that is going to be one of the best things about Box Butte, everybody does their part … so I’ve been told,” she chuckled.

“I haven’t experienced that yet but I believe most of the people that have told me that. I mean, all the people in other counties have told me how lucky I am because Box Butte has such a good group of people that help with fair.”

Former 4-H Assistant Deb Kraenow has offered her guidance where she can and is helping put together the livestock handbook.

“There are a few new things in the fair book that we need to change. A lot of the cooking stuff has changed …,” noted Fenning.  

Along with preparing the fair book she is working on compiling the list of judges. There are books and stacks of material to go over but she is taking things slow.

“I want to get out and meet people in the community.”

She has no plans to make any big changes anytime soon.

“I’m not going to just dive head first and then flop, I’m going to take it slow and learn about what’s going on in the county.”

She is not familiar with the area and has never been to this county fair so she’s very excited yet nervous.

“I know absolutely nobody in Alliance. I’m glad that people are accepting; I’ve seen that so far. Everybody that has come in has been really nice so that makes me happy. I’m still a little nervous but I know it will all work out. Even if there are bumps and hiccups along the road.

“Really I want to address what people thing the needs are for the youth in the county so that way I can get a feel for the curriculum that would best serve them.”

If anyone has ideas on what they would like to see Fenning encourages them to give her a call at the extension office, “If they feel we need more leadership trainings or if we need more of a particular class. Not saying that I can make that happen anytime soon but the encouragement and the opinions are always welcomed.”