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State Honoree

Augustus Ehlers

Edgewood, Iowa

Augustus Ehlers, 16, of Edgewood, Iowa, a member of Clayton County 4-H and a junior at Edgewood-Colesburg High School, coordinated and managed the fabrication of more than 350 steel gates for animal pens at the county fairgrounds, saving the fair board in his small county more than $60,000. As part of its plans to build a new swine and sheep barn at the fairgrounds, the Clayton County Fair board solicited bids from local livestock equipment companies to build animal pens and gates for the new barn. But “the bids were coming in high,” said Augustus, noting that the fair has a small budget. “I thought we could take the expenses and make them a little bit smaller.”

Augustus researched the project, and then asked a local welding shop owner to quote a price for the required steel. He figured he could do the welding, aided by other volunteers. He put together a budget, presented his plan at a few fair board meetings, and submitted a formal bid. It was accepted. When the steel for the project was ready, Augustus recruited dozens of volunteers from his 4-H club and Boy Scout troop, and began welding together 5- to 10-foot gates. The whole process took almost a year to complete, and it ended up costing less than half of the next lowest bid. Augustus’ project will ensure that “livestock shown in the barn will have safe and humane pens and gating,” he said, and “thousands of fair-goers, exhibitors, parents and spectators will benefit for years to come.”