By TIM HEARDEN
DAVIS, Calif. -- Jordan Miner of Antioch, Calif., has been working all spring to prepare rabbits for the annual 4-H state field day at the university here.
The big day arrived May 25, as he stood and explained his project to hundreds of passers-by.
"It's really exciting when you get to the big shows," said Miner, 14, adding that he attended a show in Reno, Nev., that had more than 12,000 entrants. "It's a lot of fun to come because you get to do a booth and see a lot of people you don't normally see."
Miner was one of more than 1,000 youngsters in 4-H who participated in various activities at the state field day, which takes place on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend each year on a lawn at the University of California-Davis campus.
The event represented all the facets of 4-H except for large-animal projects, which culminate in showings at the state fair in Sacramento in July. Included at the field day were plant science and entomology contests, a fashion review, a mock job interview competition, a photography contest, a film festival and even a chess tournament.
"It seemed to be something that was emerging," field day coordinator Sarah Watkins said of chess, which is now offered at some local clubs. "I was contacted by an adult who wanted to formulate and run the contest and I said, 'Why not?'"
The plant sciences contest was organized into three parts -- judging, plant identification and a written test. The four highest-ranking senior 4-H members qualify for a national contest, which a team from California won last year, Watkins said.
For the entomology contest, students had to identify and show their knowledge of as many as 30 common local insects as well as exotic insects, according to the California 4-H website. In the knowledge contest, youngsters were quizzed on the human and environmental impacts of insects, biology, taxonomy, anatomy, behavior and insect disease.
K'Marie Magray, 13, of Crescent City, Calif., was entered in the presentation contest, for which she had to pre-qualify. In that competition, individuals or teams were judged on how well they gave prepared speeches, demonstrations or other forms of presentation.
Magray was giving a talk on how to de-horn a goat. She said she wasn't nervous.
"I'm used to being in big groups of people," she said.
The field day began with opening ceremonies, as members from each of the more than 30 entered counties carried banners.
The event came as California 4-H is celebrating its centennial this year. In 1913, the forerunner of 4-H was founded as an agricultural club at the college of agriculture in Davis, according to the state website. By the following year, 84 high school agricultural clubs were reported in California, the website explained.
By 1917, 2,716 participants in 208 high school clubs took part in projects under the direction of the University of California. The earliest clubs consisted only of boys, though girls were never specifically excluded.
California 4-H: http://www.ca4h.org