Reese Page began participating in 4-H at age 8. Now, at 15, she excels as a 4-H horse ambassador for Cache County, Ridgeline High School’s vice president of FFA, and Lewiston’s rodeo queen.

Hailey Westenskow, contributing writer

Reese Page lives by this motto: “Success isn’t measured in trophies, it’s measured in progress,” and that determination led her to success in both aspects. At the young age of 15, Reese is the 4-H horse ambassador for Cache County, Ridgeline’s vice president of FFA, and Lewiston’s rodeo queen. She is most heavily involved in 4-H, a youth development program that is dedicated to empowering young people with leadership qualities by giving them a voice and an outlet to think of solutions to societal issues in a learn-by-doing way. This involves yearly competitions in many areas, including STEM, agriculture, healthy living, and civic engagement.

Reese’s parents were involved in the agricultural aspect of 4-H and showed pigs, horses, and lambs while they were in school. Their love for it was contagious in the stories they shared with Reese, which inspired her to participate as well. At 8 years old she began competing in the food categories and later sewing. Finally, in junior high, she found a horse that was fit to compete alongside her. Reese’s summers began to revolve around training with her horse, Vegas, and preparing for the competition.

The horse class involves a few categories: Showmanship, western pleasure, trail, and speed. In showmanship, the handler leads the horse on foot and demonstrates how well she and her horse understand each other. Western pleasure has the rider atop the horse making circles to show the horse understands commands from its rider. The trail category involves different obstacles for the horse and rider to maneuver through, and speed events are more in relation to the rodeo. Though local participants need only demonstrate skill in one or more of the categories, to qualify for state each must demonstrate proficiency in all of them. This past summer, Reese and Vegas’ hard work paid off with a win in Cache County’s 4-H senior division, and later the title of Lewiston Rodeo Queen.

After such a successful event, Reese was eager to return to the training ring in anticipation of the state competition. However, disaster struck when Vegas was injured and incapable of training with Reese. Though they were still able to compete, they did much more poorly than she had dreamed.  “I was quite heartbroken about it,” Reese shared. “I worked really hard all summer to get to this point and it felt like everything crumbled at the last minute.” In the face of this setback, Reese remembered the advice given to her at the beginning of her journey: “Success isn’t measured in trophies, it’s measured in progress.” She was determined to remain optimistic for the future. After each event, she stepped to the judges’ table to ask what she could do to improve for the next year and took notes of what she was told. Through the winter, these notes became a textbook for her to follow as she prepared for the upcoming summer. “I feel like we’re coming back stronger and better than we would have if he hadn’t gotten hurt,” Reese said.

Being involved in 4-H has not only allowed Reese to learn hands-on leadership learning experiences like this, but the gift of forming meaningful connections as well. “Some of the best people I’ve met were through 4-H,” she said. “I didn’t have a ton of friends who rode horses and who were interested in agriculture, but after joining the program and really getting involved I’ve been able to meet people and grow a lot from learning from them.” She also spends rare moments of free time each week educating others on agriculture and how to be involved in 4-H, which has influenced the career path she will eventually take to continue her education in agriculture.

If you or your child is interested in participating in 4-H, visit extension.usu.edu/cache/4H/ online.