GOSHEN — There wasn’t a sheep or lamb in sight Monday afternoon and yet the Leer family was already gathered at the Elkhart County 4-H Fair.
“We basically live here for two weeks and then there’s fair week,” Tim Leer, explained. “It’s what we do... it’s in our blood.”
This year, Tim, his wife, Annette, and their four children and great niece were named an Elkhart County 4-H Family of the Year.
Two families are selected for the award each year. Laura and Gary Stieglitz were selected as the other 2014 4-H Family of the Year.
When Annette opened the letter from Elkhart County’s Purdue Extension office and read that they’d been selected, she couldn’t stop her tears from falling.
“It’s such an honor,” she said, tearing up again as she remembered receiving the news. “We’ve been involved for a lot of years. It’s been great.”
Spending several summer weeks at the fair has long been a family tradition, Tim Leer said.
Tim, who works in the maintenance department at Fairfield Community Schools, was a 10-year Elkhart County 4-H member and has stuck with the program ever since. This year, he celebrates 31 consecutive years in 4-H.
In 1994, Tim’s parents Dale and Ruby Leer were honored as a 4-H Family of the Year — the same award his family received exactly 20 years later.
Annette (DeFord) Leer, who drives a school bus for Fairfield Community Schools and works at Leatherman and Miller law office, was also a 10-year Elkhart County 4-H member and now leads the Fairfield Pioneer 4-H Club and is a member in training for the fair board.
The couple passed their love of 4-H onto their four children and great niece.
Their oldest, Preston Reddell, 19, was a 10-year member last year and is now studying biochemistry at Purdue University.