Tara Bone, contributing writer
Jill Romo’s motto in life is find your passion and live your dreams. Jill and her family brought their dreams and entrepreneurial spirit with them to Cache Valley six years ago when they moved to Petersboro. Since then, they have started two local businesses and a 4-H club.
The Romo family came to Cache Valley after an exhaustive search for horse property. Jill said once they found it, they loved it and “will never leave the Valley.”
Jill and her husband, Steve, opened Romo’s Mediterranean Grill at 661 North Main in Logan more than three years ago, and it has become a family endeavor. Both their 16-year-old son Christian and 18-year-old daughter Aliya put in long hours at the restaurant.
Jill said she and Steve have always believed in teaching a strong work ethic and feel “there’s no better way to teach it than to start a business and let them do it.”
Mediterranean food has always been a love for the Romo family because of their connections to that part of the world. Steve’s family are descendants of Spain, and Jill served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints near the Mediterranean Sea. But Jill says the restaurant is more Steve’s passion, and her passion is with her four-legged friends.
Growing up on a farm in Idaho, Jill said she was always an animal lover, but the dog part of her became her “true love and passion.” When Jill was just eight years old she enrolled in a dog 4-H program. From there, her passion grew.
Jill funneled her passion into opening K9’s Unleashed Academy at 541 North Main in Logan and starting the Cache County Dog 4-H program. In fact, Jill started the 4-H program six years ago, just weeks after moving to the Valley.
Jill is in her 35th year of 4-H, and is the Northern Utah Representative for the American Kennel Club. Over the years, she has started seven different 4-H programs in seven different counties, and says she hopes the program in Cache County will “be the one that I stay with.”
More than 100 kids have gone through the Cache 4-H program, and there are currently 50 kids participating. Jill said the benefits of the 4-H program are numerous — that it’s more than just teaching dogs to sit.
“A saying I came up with years ago for 4-H is it teaches life skills to last a lifetime,” Jill said. “I truly believe that within my soul. These kids walk away from this program with skills they may not have had the opportunity to learn elsewhere.”
Jill says some of these skills include record-keeping, public speaking and fundraising, and that the kids also build their own confidence while they’re developing their relationship with their dog. The program specifically teaches kids how to train and properly groom and care for their animal. They also work on advanced skills, such as animal agility and showmanship.
Jill volunteers her time to the program, but says she doesn’t do it alone. Rachael Flammer is also a certified dog trainer and co-director of the 4-H program. Between Rachael, the kids and the parents who help, Jill said 4-H feels like a family.
Rachael, who lives in Amalga, started working with Jill and the 4-H program five years ago. For her, the most rewarding part of the program is watching the kids build their confidence and experiencing the camaraderie the kids have with one another.
“I love seeing the progression between the kids and their dog,” Rachael said. “Although someone may be shy at first, the experience can open them up, and it boosts their confidence. In a world of so much negativity, we are here to buoy the kids up and teach them life skills to be confident with themselves.”
Jill and Rachael took their love of working with dogs and people and opened K9’s Unleashed Academy three years ago. They just opened their new location on Main Street in Logan. K9’s Unleashed provides a variety of dog training classes that even includes a dock diving clinic in the summer, so dogs can learn to fly off the docks.
Within K9’s Unleashed Main Street location, there is a shop called The Barking Bone Boutique where 4-H kids can make and sell products for dog lovers. A new program, The Pet Pantry, is also available at K9’s Unleashed. Jill said the goal of The Pet Pantry is to help people who are struggling financially with their animals.
“There’s a gap that needs to be filled for people who are struggling to feed their pets,” Jill said. “Rather than sending their dog to the pound because they can’t feed it, let’s help them keep pets in their happy home.”
Donations of dog food, dog treats and dog toys — anything that is shelf stable — can be made at K9’s Unleashed. Jill said she hopes donations will be made all year, not just during the holiday season. More information about K9’s Unleashed is available on their Facebook page.
Where does Jill get her motivation to keep her dreams moving forward? From her parents, Norman and Beverly Kump. Her father recently passed away from cancer, and she said he was a true friend who is now her angel.
“My father was an amazing businessman and mentor in my life,” Jill said. “He taught me to work hard, but work smart.”
Cache County 4-H Dog Club Sponsors Pet Food Drive this Holiday Season
The Cache County 4-H Dog Program is sponsoring a pet food drive this week. Donations can be made at Cal Ranch in the Cache Valley Mall, at K9s Unleashed at 541 North Main in Logan, or at the 4-H Office at 179 North Main, Suite 111. Donation boxes will be gathered this Friday, Dec. 8.