Haley Zipay recently returned from a trip to the National 4-H Congress in Atlanta. In addition to being named one of only nine delegates chosen from Arizona, she was also named Maricopa County 4-H Member of the Year.

Travis Roemhild/AFN

At first, Haley Zipay wasn't totally sold on joining the local 4-H Club with her family.

But now more than three years later, the Horizon Community Learning Center student has embraced her role and continues to make a name for herself within the club.

Zipay, 16, was recently named the Maricopa County 4-H Member of the Year and was chosen as one of only nine delegates from Arizona to attend the National 4-H Congress in Atlanta. Throughout that time, her views on what the goals and the club are have changed, and now she says 4-H has changed her life for the better.

"I did not want to do it at first but my mom said, ‘You just have to try it and you will really like it,'" Zipay said. "But going through and getting to know everybody that likes the same stuff you do, it makes you feel like you belong, and that you have known these people you're whole life. It's not just about livestock either."

Zipay focuses on horses for 4-H and spends her time riding and performing in local competitions. There is the physical aspect of it, but she also must learn about the anatomy and biology of the animal for what is called the Horse Bowl, a quiz show-style competition. She will be attending the National Horse Bowl in Colorado next month.

"The point of it is to learn everything you can about horses," Zipay said. "It's very detailed and they ask you everything you can think of."

The National 4-H Congress brought 815 representatives from 43 states together for workshops, team building exercises, guest speakers and more Nov. 25-29.

To qualify, Zipay and other interested participants had to submit a portfolio of everything they had done in their 4-H club this year. Each member may only attend the congress once.

"It was really cool that of all the different projects submitted, I was picked to go," she said. "Everyone that was there had a common interest in wanting to learn and increase their knowledge."

Zipay said that 4-H has a little something for everyone, but that science is the umbrella that encompasses them.

To find out more about the local clubs, visit www.4-h.org.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or troemhild@ahwatukee.com

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