Competing in the 4-H Lawn and Garden Tractor competition has been more than just driving a lawn mower through an obstacle course for Coy Wolheter, the 12-year-old missionary child with the South Milford Mighty Mights 4-H Club.
This 4-H season has been Wolheter’s second time competing in 4-H. His father, James Wolheter, and mother Jenny are missionaries in Bolivia where James works in the rural areas and Jenny works with women’s ministries and the Crisis Pregnancy Center. They are also doing theological training and will be starting a missions training program as well.
In Cochabamba, Bolivia there are no garden tractors and the people are usually cutting their grass with sharp knives, blades, or even scissors. Coy has no built-up experience driving except for when he and his family travel back to Northeastern Indiana every two years to visit with friends and family and allow for their sons to compete in 4-H.
This year Coy only had a week to prepare and practice for the lawn and garden project of 4-H because he and his family were traveling the whole month of June to different churches to share their experiences with the people who are supporting them. He had enough time to practice for about a week before the county competition where he progressed forward to the district contest.
The lawn and garden contest consists of a test where they are asked questions about anything relating to lawn and garden mowers and keeping a lawn, a safety portion where competitors have to find and correct safety issues on a mower, an identification portion where they have to know different parts of the lawn mower, and then there is the timed obstacle course that they have to drive through.
The obstacle course has the stakes in the ground that each competitor has to drive around in a serpentine, go around a half-circle, drive backwards, come up to an obstacle, and back into a space similar to a garage spot. Wolheter drove his best when he went to the regional completion and is looking forward to competing at the Indiana State Fair on Saturday.
“I’m nervous and excited,” he said.
Jenny Wolheter shared that she gets more nervous than Coy on the competition day. “He’s really calm under pressure,” she stated. Coy shared that when it comes to actually driving, the nerves go away because he needs to focus on driving.
“James taught him to stay calm and shake it off,” said Jenny. “It was tips from James that really helped Coy. He is very methodical so he has all these things that help him.”
It wasn’t too many years ago that James was competing in the lawn and garden project in 4-H as well. In 1990 he was able to compete in the state junior division and won. It was his senior year in high school in 1995 when James won the state competition and advanced to win the national competition for the lawn and garden project.
Coy has some big shoes to fill, but he is excited to do it. “It’s not hard, it’s like an adventure. There’s so many parts to it and you have to learn so many things,” he said.
James and the other two boys traveled back to Bolivia when they were originally planning to head back before Coy won the regional completion to advance to the state competition. James and Jenny decided that it would be good to allow Coy the opportunity to participate in the state competition.
During the Saturday competition at the state fair, with the technology of today, they will be video chatting with James and Coy’s brothers. They will watch the competition and talk to Coy before he competes in the different parts of the contest.
Coy and Jenny will be traveling back to Bolivia after competing in and experiencing the Indiana State Fair.
Coy has really enjoyed his experience with 4-H and has learned a lot in each of the projects like lawn and garden tractors, crops and soybeans, and even with the pigs that he showed the last time he was in Indiana.
“I like taking the ribbons back to Bolivia,” said Coy when he was talking about heading back. He is a student at a private Christian school down there. He also enjoys playing soccer four days a week.