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4-H: All in the Dickinson family

Press Photo by Betsy SImon Kelsey Hondl, 19, unfolds the start of the second quilt on Tuesday that she is constructing as part of a 4-H project she plans to complete soon. Quilting is a skill Hondl picked up as part of a 4-H project.1 / 2
Press Photo by Betsy Simon Skyler Hondl, 11, standas in his kitchen Tuesday and buttons up a ghillie suit that he has spent several weeks handcrafting with help from his mother. The custom-made ghillie suit is a 4-H project Hondl has wanted to do since he followed in the footsteps of his sisters and brother and joined 4-H at the NDSU Stark/Billings County Extension Office, of which he is as four-year member.2 / 2

What do sheep, painting, bow hunting and quilts have in common?

In Randy and Sharon Hondl's Dickinson home, they are part of their four children's past and present 4-H projects, which will be displayed this month at the Roughrider Days' 4-H exhibits and shows, beginning the last week of June.

"It seems like the kids have always been in 4-H, and 4-H goes with us year-round wherever we go, whether it's on a family trip or walking around Hobby Lobby, we'll see something and think, 'That would make a good 4-H project,'" said mother of four Sharon Hondl, who along with her family, spoke to The Dickinson Press on Tuesday at their home. "4-H has really been a family event. Sometimes, as parents, we have to hassle the kids to make sure their projects are done, but we often work on them together and it's a lot of trial and error."

The families venture with 4-H began with the oldest Hondl child McKyla, 21, who graduated in May from the University of Mary with a degree in history education and political science.

The 4-H tradition continued with McKyla's sister, Kelsey, 19, who is in her 11th year in 4-H and will age out of the club this year, is enrolled in North Dakota State University's pre-veterinary program and studying animal science; and brothers Kylend, 18, and Skyler, 11, who attend Dickinson Catholic Schools.

Kelsey found her niche when she started livestock judging.

She is also trying her hand at growing an herb garden and will complete her second quilt, a skill she acquired last year through 4-H.

"Quilting was a real challenge to start and took about a year to make the first one," she said. "You really learn how to use your imagination as you do projects in areas you have never worked in before."

Skyler started to produce 4-H projects long before he was old enough to be a 4-H Clover Bud, his mom recalled.

"He always wanted to be in 4-H and do projects when his old siblings were working on theirs, so we would make projects with him at home even though he was too young for them to be judged," Sharon Hondl said.

Projects, like the ghillie suit that Skyler made to blend in with his surroundings on the next bow hunt with is family, are among his most treasured 4-H projects.

"Being in 4-H has been even better than I thought it would and I'm not sorry I decided to join at all," he said.

Had it not been for his older sister McKyla joining 4-H around age 7, the Hondls may never have discovered the benefits of the organization.

"4-H definitely made my communication skills better because I had to practice talking about and explaining my projects before the judges," McKyla said. "I was always practicing my speeches because I wanted to do better, ribbon-wise, and I took pride in was doing and wanted to do the best I possibly could."

As much as Kylend enjoys building car motors and messing with lawnmower motors, 4-H has also allowed him to step outside his comfort zone.

"I've gotten to do things I wouldn't probably have gotten to do, like wood burning and photography, if I wasn't in 4-H," he said.

The same can be said for other students, Sharon Hondl added.

"My sons did sewing projects and the girls tried out mechanics, and it allowed us to raise sheep, goats and rabbits, which we never would have done," she said. "4-H opened up a lot of doors without the gender barriers that might have been there otherwise. It's a very positive atmosphere."