Harter named to state’s junior fair board


By Ryan Berry


GREENVILLE — For the first time in recent memory, a Darke County student has been named to the Ohio State Junior Fair Board. GraceLynn Harter will be representing 4-H on the board.

Harter is 18 years old and a senior at the Ohio Virtual Academy. The daughter of Jeremy and Krista Francis, Harter is a member of two 4-H clubs, Blue Angels where she does general non-livestock projects and Horse & Rider where she shows horses. She is currently serving as a vice president of the Darke County Junior Fair Board. She represents the equine/horse department.

Harter said she is very involved in 4-H at both the county and state levels. She serves as a Youth Representative on the Darke County 4-H Committee and the Darke County All Extension Advisory Board and is vice-president of both. She is also a 4-H camp counselor. Harter is a member and president of the county’s community service group, Hands Across the Darke. At the state level, Harter is a Teen Leadership Council Committee member, 4-H Health HEROES participant and the 2023 Ohio Achievement Form Personal Development Award winner.

During last year’s state fair, Harter worked as a 4-H Event Youth Assistant and was able to network and meet a lot of new people. She said she was introduced to some junior fair board members, which piqued her curiosity. She began asking questions and the more she heard about the board she realized this was something she wanted to be part of. “During my time as a 4-H Event Youth Assistant, I really loved working with the fair goers, and that’s a large part of what you do,” Harter said.

With the connections in place, Harter decided to fill out an application. Her application was selected, and she then went through an interview process before being selected.

Serving on the state’s Junior Fair Board will definitely have an impact on her schedule. She said the group meets once via Zoom before the state fair. The work really begins as the state fair gets closer. The group moves into the state fair two days before the start of the fair and they have multiple daily meetings. Members are expected to be at the fair for the full two weeks.

When she returns home, Harter is hoping she will be able to inspire others to step outside of their comfort zone and try new things. She said, “If I would have stayed in different environments that I felt comfortable in there would’ve never been any room for growth. I’m super excited to be able to network with others and bring back different information and new perspectives to make our county even better.” Harter believes she will be able to learn about other counties as much as she is able to share what’s special about Darke County.

As it does with most people who go through 4-H, Harter shared it has had a positive impact on her life. “The 4-H program has provided me with so many opportunities which has led to my personal development over the past few years. I’ve gained incredible leadership and communication skills throughout my time in 4-H and on the Darke County Junior Fairboard. I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today without these programs,” she said.

Harter added, “I have an extraordinary support system, starting with my parents, they sacrifice so much for me and have truly been my inspirations throughout life.” She also credited 4-H Educator Rhonda Willams with helping her achieve her goals. She continued her list of people that have stood with her, “My little brother, Daxton, who has been my rock since day one and is the main reason I do what I do, to hopefully inspire. Darke County 4-H Committee for sponsoring many of the events and trips I have had the opportunity to attend. Lastly, Adrianna Meyer, for helping me reach my fullest potential, providing me with so much encouragement, and helping me on my journey throughout the Ohio State Fair Junior Fair Board process. There’s many more people who I would like to thank, who have helped get me to where I am. Thank you to everyone who ever helped me, reached out to me, encouraged me, and has always supported me.”

To contact Daily Advocate Editor Ryan Berry, email [email protected].

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