Jeremy Withnell of Westminster is only 9 years old, but already he knows what he wants.
"My goal is to become Mr. 4-H someday," he said matter-of-factly, as if there were no doubt that one day he will beselected as Carroll County's top male 4-H'er.
He has a good start toward earning the coveted title. Although this past year was only his first as a full-fledged 4-H'er, he plunged into so many projects that he had to keep a written list of things hewas doing.
For instance, for this week's fair, Jeremy has 24 entries in seven divisions, and he is entered in the bike rodeo.
Rita Zimmerman, 4-H Extension Service assistant, said the average number of entries for the younger members is about 10.
For last year's fair, as a Clover 4-H'er in the 6- to 7-year-old group, the enthusiastic, outgoing Jeremy entered his maximum five projects. Clovers receive green participation ribbons for their efforts, rather than rated awards.
He belongs to the Westminster Eagles 4-H Club, a 2-year-old community/general interest club, of which his mother, Susan Withnell, is a co-leader. Jeremy is club treasurer.
This year Jeremy will compete against other 4-H'ers in his age group for premiums and championribbons.
It's hard to know where to begin on Jeremy's projects. He has his own garden in the back yard of the family's Wakefield Valley home where he's growing carrots, onions, patty pan squash, acorn squash, zucchini and three kinds of tomatoes.
Besides his individualvegetable entries, "his whole garden will be judged -- they come outhere and look at it, and it has to be 100 square feet," Susan Withnell said.
Jeremy added that his father, Gary Withnell, tilled his garden for him, but that he planted his vegetables and has cared for them himself.
Jeremy likes to cook and will have numerous baked items to enter in the fair.
"I have a big, huge list of things I do for the fair," he said. "I'm baking vegetable bread, brownies, oatmealdrop cookies, an undecorated cake and a special needs cake that is an eggless cake for people who can't have as much cholesterol."
He also is captain of the Junior Food and Nutrition Bowl Team for 8- to 10-year-olds, having earned the most points during try-outs for the team.
"The Junior Team won the regional and will compete at the State Fair," said Susan Withnell. "He has stacks of stuff he has to memorize for the food nutrition bowl."
His interest in food already has earned him several awards. He received a champion award at last spring's county Demonstration Day for his "How to Grow Carrots" demonstration.
Two menu exhibits got him blue ribbons at the county Food Nutrition Day competition and a grand champion and blue ribbon at the regionals in April.
Other interests are more varied. Jeremy has two dish gardens to enter in the fair, along with a jade plant. One dish garden is tropical, containing a ribbon plant, purple passion and German ivy. A desert dish has six kinds of cactus in it.
"There's two classes of dish gardens, so I did both," Jeremy said. "The desert one was harder to plant and is harder to water because there's sand on top of the soil, and if you water it, the sand will wash away."
He has two hermit crabs he's entering in the small animal exhibits. At the Mid-Winter Blahs program, he learned how to make a baby bootee out of marshmallows and cake icing for a crafts project entry.
Jeremy also will have a hobby exhibit of baseball cards in the fair. In the past three years, he has collected some 1,650 cards, he said.
"We've spent so much time on his baseball cards, we figured we might as well make it a 4-H exhibit," Susan Withnell said with a laugh.
The youngster will compete on Friday in the Bicycle Rodeo, yet another activity he enjoys.
"There's two circles and you have to ride around between the two circles and do balancing at slow speeds and there's figure 8 riding and riding between obstacles," Jeremy said.
And as if that's not enough, Jeremy already has won a blue ribbon in the county public speaking contest earlier in the year.
On top of all his 4-H activities, Jeremy "is a very accomplished pianist," Susan Withnell added. "He's taking the Maryland Summer Center's program forthe gifted and talented."
Last spring, the Westminster Elementarythird-grader entered two piano competitions and played a Beethoven piece that won him an alternate spot.
"I was so close they named mean alternate to take the place of the winner if he couldn't go on," Jeremy said.
Surprisingly, Jeremy has been playing the piano regularly for only 18 months, since the family inherited a piano from his grandmother.
Jeremy seems to enjoy keeping busy and is looking forward to the fair. And he appears to have already accomplished the reason he entered 4-H two years ago.
"I wanted to go into 4-H becauseI thought that it might be interesting and I could learn some thingsfrom it," he said.