By Pete Soyer
During the Great Northern Fair, a makeshift office is set up on a folding table in the south corner of the Bigger Better Barn.
Wendy Gerky sits with her shoes on the mix of dirt and hay that make up the her office's floor and types the results of the 4-H competitions into a laptop computer.
"I record everything," Gerky said.
She said she takes all the results, puts them on paper and delivers them to the Havre Daily News. The results and pictures seen in the Daily News are from her.
If a 4-Her wins a blue ribbon, Gerky knows. If a 4-Her wins a red ribbon, Gerky knows. If a 4-Her is the grand champion or the reserve champion, Gerky knows.
Gerky also types up all the data about the market animals that buyers study before the market animal sale, Sunday at 1 p.m. in the Bigger Better Barn.
An average day for her involves collecting information and collecting more information. Even after the fair is over.
Gerky said she has to take all the information back to the Hill County Extension Office and keep track of the animals that were sold. She keeps tabs on the animals all the way through the slaughter. All that data gets back to the 4-H kids, who raised the animals, and the buyers, she said.
This is Gerky's second year as secretary for the Extension Office and she isn't complaining about the hustle during the fair.
"I love my job. I couldn't ask for a better job," she said.
The preparation for 4-H at the fair starts way before the rides roll in or the food comes out.
All 4-H participants have to register their projects before the fair starts. All those registrations go to Gerky.
She keeps track of the registrations by entering them into her computer. As the registrations come in, she can then tell what number of 4-Hers the fair will have.
She said she also finds sponsors for the 4-H trophies, and records the data when the kids weigh in their animals, among many other tasks.
"Lots of computer and secretary stuff," she said.
Gerky's interest in 4-H was sparked through her children.
Her son, Katon, 13, received the rank of top overall in fashion review for his homemade clothes at this year's fair. He also has hogs in 4-H.
Gerky's daughter, Lindsay, 11, is involved in sewing and hogs too.
Gerky said, "I got involved because my kids did." She kept getting more involved and became the director of the 4-H Camp in 1999. She remained director in 2000 and is now involved in almost all aspects of 4-H, she said.
She said she enjoys working with all the 4-H kids, but hasn't had as much of a chance to this year.
"I do a lot of the book stuff" so she doesn't get a chance to work as closely with the kids.
During her first year working at the fair, Gerky was amazed at how much work goes on behind the scenes.
People come to the fair and everything is set up, everything is ready to go. A lot of "work goes in that people don't see," she said.
"I had no idea and it's just unbelievable."
Gerky applied for the Extension Office secretary position because the job would put her directly involved with 4-H. She said one reason her job is so nice is because "I have great people to work with."
During the 4-H setup before the fair, she is surrounded by a "bunch of busy volunteers." She said volunteers do everything and everything always runs smoothly because of them. But she is always in the market for new faces to help out.
She said new people bring new ideas and it is always nice to have a change.
You don't have to be involved with 4-H to volunteer time. She said anyone can come and help. She doesn't have any requirements.
"We'll take anybody," she said.
To volunteer time with 4-H, call Gerky at the Hill County Extension Office in the Hill County Courthouse at 265-5481.