CADIZ - Thirteen years spent taking agriculture-related projects in 4-H in addition to four years in the Harrison Central FFA program while in high school have prompted Bryant Valdinger along the road to attending the Agriculture Technical Institute before going to Ohio State University, where he will study for a degree in agri-science.
He has one more year that he can participate in the Stitch and Hitch 4-H Club, where he has taken market lambs, fancy poultry, market steers, beef breeding and, this year, raised a market hog because he had not done that before. He also earned an outstanding project knowledge award for his swine project.
In previous years, he has won showmanship and show of showman for livestock projects. The showman title means he topped other contestants in his age category, and the show of showman means that he came out on top of all the age categories combined to earn the title.
Two years ago, he helped raise a 4-H market steer for a disabled cousin who was unable to handle the task herself. The money earned from the sale of the steer was donated to the Harrison Career Center.
He has held several offices in his 4-H club, and participated in many community projects, including Valentines for Vets; Easter baskets for patients at the Harrison County Home, a facility for senior citizens; Christmas for the Needy presents; and Make-A-Difference Day projects.
A Make a Difference Day project aided the Zack Jones Benefit, which helped to cover the teen's expenses for treatment of his undifferentiated embryonal sarcoma, a rare form of cancer, with only two known cases treated at Pittsburgh's Children's Hospital. Members helped with the silent auction and in other areas, according to Loretta Pickens, club adviser for 40 years and Valdinger's grandmother.
Another Make-a-Difference Day project included volunteers going door-to-door to collect food products for area pantries.
He has served on the junior fair board, was a member of Car-Teens, the 4-H youth board and was a camp counselor for four years. He earned his FFA state degree in 2011 and participated in a Food for the Needy project, green house projects and helped with landscaping at Hopedale Elementary School. He is not finished with FFA, and plans to go for a national degree in 2013.
In FFA, he participated in a project which called for him to borrow money to use to obtain shorthorn-cross cattle and raise them to completion to pay back the loan and earn a profit. He raised the cattle on a portion of the farm of Charles Merryman, where he built a fence to keep the livestock corralled.
During his last year at Harrison Central, he went to school half a day and did farm work for the remainder of the day at the farm where his grandfather, Clyde, farmed until his death.
Bryant is now hauling mulch to earn money for ATI tuition.
He is the son of Jim and Jill Valdinger. His mother and his aunt, Sandy Valdinger, are Stitch and Hitch advisers.