A statewide ban on bird shows in Indiana is impacting 4-H projects. The ban, aimed at stopping the spread of a bird flu that’s killed an estimated 45 million birds across the nation, will keep 4-H members from bringing their poultry to county fairs and Indiana’s storied State Fair this summer.
Phoebe Beheler, a 13-year-old from western Indiana’s Warren County, is among nearly 6,800 4-H participants across Indiana who raised birds — from chickens to pigeons — but who are now prohibited from showing their birds at 4-H events because of the state’s bird show ban.
Beheler, who’s been raising farm animals for years, used an incubator to hatch her current 70-plus chickens, including members of the rare Nankin bantam and Dominique chicken breeds. She said raising the birds is a lot of work and not without disappointments. She recently lost two chickens to nighttime raccoon attacks.
4-H members continue to care for their animals and will complete their projects.
Warren County’s Purdue Extension educator, Kelly Pearson, said the bird show ban will affect about 35 4-H participants who raised poultry and other birds for the 4-H fair in the sparsely populated rural county that abuts the Illinois state line.
“I know people are going to be disappointed,” she said, adding, “But the rabbits will have more room this year.”
4-H is the nation’s largest youth development organization, with more than six million members. The program is offered as a partnership between federal, state and county government. 4-H is administered in each state by the land-grant university, and offers community clubs, camps, school enrichment and after school programs in every county in the United States. It is a program of the Cooperative Extension system and the USDA.
In California, 4-H is operated by the University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resources. Learn more here.