Making a difference
Members of county 4-H club learning to play a role in their communities
The dictionary definition of a rustler is one who steals cattle. The 4-H definition of a rustler, however, is one who makes a difference in the community.
Courtney Kendall, 14, a member of the Leavenworth County Rustlers, is undoubtedly the latter in those distinctly different definitions.
Kendall has been a member of the rustlers for four years. She said she most enjoys helping people in need, and being in a club that makes a difference makes her feel good.
"We've done a lot in the past to help the community," Kendall said. "We've done dinners, Thanksgiving dinner for the elders, and we just help them with whatever they need help with."
Kendall's mother, a former rustler member and current leader of the club, said seeing both her son and her daughter involved in 4-H makes her proud.
"Courtney just tries to go by the basic 4-H pledge and that's to make your community a better place," Kendall's mother, Lori Brandt, said. "And my son (Cody, 11) takes more of an interest in helping the littler kids. If he has an opportunity to be a big leader he loves that. I'm proud of both of them."
The current rustlers club has 16 members and most of them do several independent activities.
"We do a lot of stuff on our own," Kendall said. "One day a month we spend together planning things, but the rest of the time we do stuff on our own."
Recently the club has been planning its activities for the upcoming Leavenworth County Fair.
With so many members interested in so many different things, Kendall said it's kind of fun to see what everyone is involved with. Kendall herself, is involved strictly with showing horses.
Her horse, Sonie (pronounced Sony), is 23 and the two of them participate in the walk and trot events. The events are designed to show the horse's elegance.
While sitting atop the horse, Kendall is also quite elegant. Her riding uniform consists of a green outfit complete with a matching long-sleeve shirt and pants, accented with black boots, a black hat and her silver belt buckle she won in 1999 at the fair for showmanship. Sonie wears a matching green saddle blanket that completes the ensemble.
"Showing a cow doesn't have the same gracefulness of the shower as in showing horses," said Kendall, who also helps her brother Cody show his cow.
Kendall will also enter the food and clothing events and the Rustlers will help work the concession stands. Kendall said she likes the horse events the most because they're something she's good at.
"It's just a lot of fun competing against other people who are really good," Kendall said. "And it brings a lot of excitement. It's the highlight of the fair."
For her mother, however, the highlight is that her children are learning to play a positive role in the community at an early age.
And based on the 4-H definition of a rustler, that's what it's all about.
"I'm very proud of both of my kids and the role they have taken," Lori Brandt said. "They're learning how to pull together from different walks of life and get along."