Coming Out of the Dust: Two New Ag Clubs

Madelynn Orosz, Reporter

GOSHEN- As the dust settles from the tight COVID restrictions, livestock and axes emerge.  Nonnewaug welcomed the 4H Club and Timber Team to the line-up of Ag Clubs in the spring of the 2020-2021 school year. The buzz of saws and MOO’s from cows made the Ag program feel alive again after a long shut down of hands-on activities from remote learning.

This past year, the 4H Club was led by two advisors, Mrs. Jedd for large animals and Mr. Lavoie for rabbits. The two parts of the club worked separately but met together via Zoom for the monthly meetings. “Some of my favorite things about 4H were the practices and fairs, with each one came something new we would learn. We would meet new people and we would learn from each other,” said  Carolyn Daniell, senior. “I did better than I was expecting, MJ [my rabbit] won best in breed, best in variety, and best in show at the Litchfield County 4H fair. Then went on to Bethlehem where she won best in breed.”

On the large animal side of things, advisor Mrs. Jedd mentioned the learning curve students and the animals had to overcome. “The animals had all been trained to halter and lead, but what our students were doing was concentrating more on the finesse and show-specific details such as setting up feet, learning fitting and little tips in the show ring to make the animals look their best and disguise any flaws,” she continued, “It was also our animals’ first time in a fair environment which can be quite stressful. In addition, the animal handling for a show is different and requires different equipment than they had been used to.”


Senior Captain Kennis McCarthy, one of the top axe throwers at the Bethlehem Fair highschool timber sports competition, helped secure a successful performance for the team overall.

Gabby Guerra, sophomore worked with Lambie the sheep, “Working with Lambie was interesting because she was bad with [setting up] her feet in the beginning but she really progressed and got better with everything we worked on. I think for being a six year old she did very well overall and I love her.”

On the other side of the blade, the Timber Team is coached by Mr. Zielinksi and lead by senior captains Kennis McCarthy and Shelby Rushin. They competed against Woodland and Wamogo, the other high school teams in the state. At the high school level, events include pulp toss, log roll, bow saw, crosscut, and axe throwing.

Rushin said, “It’s a very communicative sport, even though we are all up to compete against each other, we are still helping each other out[like a lot] and being good teammates, even with the other schools we don’t just help ourselves we help others and other schools help us.”

Advisor Mrs. Jedd highlights the most surprising pair, “The pairing that impressed me the most was Devon and Pearl, the Alpaca. Pearl was never really handled much before we obtained her, and Devon’s ability to gain her trust, be able to catch her quickly, and see the growth in the animal due to his calm work with her was great to watch. People were approaching and petting her all weekend at the fair, they worked together really well in the show ring, and now Pearl even stands close to us when we are working with the sheep, which shows that her comfort level around people is improving”

“It has been a little bit nerve wracking being the new team. I want to see the team do well but we are also the newbies to the sport so our times aren’t as good as some of the teams that have been around for years. We have a lot of talent but have a bit of a learning curve yet to go.”  said Mr. Zielinski, “It has been a lot of fun coaching the team so far. They always come with lots of energy and enthusiasm for the sport to each practice and competition. The other teams have taken notice of the energy that we bring.”

“Shelby Rushin and Kennis McCarthy as well as Ryan Setaro and Ryan Wicklund have emerged as a great crosscut team, ”said Zielinski, “Devon Zapatka and Emma Cummings have excelled with bow saw. Keira Irvin is a great axe thrower too. With each competition we attend though, everyone’s times continue to improve.”

The Timber Team is looking for more members as they wrap up their fall season. On October 1st, the last fair of the season will be held at the Harwington Fair. The club will be meeting once a week during the school year. Students should reach out to Mr. Zielinski if interested in joining the fun. The 4H club will likely be resuming before the end of the semester.

After each weekend everyone came home with ribbons and smiles. Students were out with school favorites such as Lily the cow shown by Madelynn Orosz, Buttercup the cow shown by Marissa Uva and Devon Zapatka and Carnation the cow shown by Gabby Danielli, Bo the sheep showed by Lily Milzak, Lambie the sheep shown by Gabby Guerra, Penelope the pig shown by Courtney Rowland, Pearl the Alpaca shown by Devon Zapatka, and rabbits MJ, Willow, Herb and Daisy, shown by Carolyn Daniell, Jordan Sellner, Michael Lynch and Sage Wotton. The 4H club would also like to thank Morgan DeMarest for her help with learning cattle fitting.