Family’s dedication to 4-H precedes award
Being named the recipient of the 4-H Spirit award took the Miles family by surprise.
Steve and Crystal Miles and their son, Jason, of rural Tonganoxie, were named this year's top family during the Leavenworth County Fair earlier this month.
The family had been nominated last year, but was not selected for the honor, so winning it this year caught them off-guard.
"I had no idea we were even up for it," Steve said. "We were nominated last year. I didn't realize we had been nominated this year.
"I was proud, but at the same time I was humbled by it because there are a lot of deserving families in the county. We feel very honored to be selected. That's certainly not what we do it for. We don't set out do it for that."
The Miles family has been involved for many years in the Reno Bobwhite 4-H club. In 1981, Steve became leader of the Leavenworth County Horse Group, a position he later stepped down from and became a parental leader with Crystal for their son, a Lawrence-Free State graduate who now is a freshman at Kansas State University.
Steve also is an assistant coach for the Leavenworth County 4-H hippology and quiz bowl team, which has won the state contest the last three years and has competed in national contests in Denver and Ohio.
Janice McCue, in her nomination letter, also noted that Steve and Crystal, after a 2000 tornado hit Tonganoxie, "spent numerous days helping to rebuild the horse show arena, crow's nest and concession stand" at the fairgrounds.
"When you nominate somebody it's because they've been a longtime member and supporter of 4-H for so long," said McCue, of rural McLouth. "They've been consistent and encouraging in providing leadership to the youth in the horse project."
And, as McCue pointed out, they've also been involved in other activities, such as livestock judging and horticulture.
Although Jason now is in college and no longer is eligible to participate in 4-H as a youth, Steve said Crystal and he planned to continue their involvement in the organization.
"I think we're going to stay involved for awhile anyway until they get tired of us," Steve said with a laugh. "We just like working with the kids."
Helping the youth with horses is something Steve especially would like to continue, because he said he didn't have much guidance when he first started working with horses as a youth.
"It's taken a little time for me to get where I'm at," Steve said. "I'm just trying to pass that on."
Steve and Crystal actually met at 4-H camp long before they were married -- according to Steve.
Steve, a Burlingame native, and Crystal, originally from Lawrence, both attended the camp.
"We have both have the same picture," Crystal said of a camp group photo.
"I didn't remember meeting. He remembers meeting."
The couple officially met a few years later as sophomores at K-State.
Through the years, they've continued to be involved in 4-H.
"Both of us come from large families of five children in each family of various ages," Crystal explained. "Even when we weren't involved ourselves, someone else was.
"It's a way we've seen youths connect with agriculture and helped us learn about our communities. For both of us too, it's helped us to develop leadership skills we've used throughout our lifetime and we're seeing the same with our kids today."
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