(Posted July 10, 2020)
By Christine Bryant, Staff Writer
An avid quilter, 11-year-old Riley Cremeens saw an opportunity to do something she loved while helping the community.
For this year’s Madison County Junior Fair, Riley decided to sew facemasks under the category of “self-determined.” Each year, for non-livestock projects, 4-H offers members the chance to choose from about 20 idea starters that fall under this category.
This year, 4-H educators from around the state came up with a new idea starter for the self-determined category, one reflective of the times: “My Stay-at-Home Summer.” The idea encouraged 4-Hers to find a new hobby, help the community, help out at home, record this time in history through journaling, or find ways to be healthy, among other prompts.
A member of the Fairfield Rascals 4-H Club, Riley said she chose to create facemasks because it was a way for her to use her talents to help others during the coronavirus pandemic.
“It felt nice that other people were being safe with the masks and that I helped others,” she said.
Riley, who is entering sixth grade at London Elementary this fall, has created about 450 masks so far, with orders still coming in. She has donated some of the masks, sent some to family members who live throughout the United States, and sold others.
Funds she has earned from sales have gone into her savings account to help cover the cost of materials and to help pay back her grandmother who covered the upfront costs for a sewing machine, she said.
Riley’s mother, Erin Cremeens, says the project has been a great way for Riley to not only give back but also learn more about economics. As part of the 4-H project requirements, Riley must submit expense reports and deposit records, and give a presentation with pictures that shows her journey.
“It makes you feel good to see them take an idea and run with it,” Erin Cremeens said. “When she realized there was a need for it and she could capitalize on a skill and run her own little business, it makes you proud.”
Riley is exhibiting two additional projects for this year’s fair–a quilting project and a sundress/jumper sewing project.
Frances Nicol, Madison County OSU Extension 4-H educator, said that each year 10 to 15 Madison County 4-Hers choose to do a self-determined project.
“It makes fair judging fun because you never know what they’re bringing. It could be a chinchilla or a mini-garden,” she said. “That’s why we say 4-H is about whatever you want to do or are interested in.”
To learn more about the Madison County 4-H program, call the OSU Extension Office at (740) 852-0975.