Thirty-three children representing 10 local 4-H clubs brought their reptiles, amphibians, birds, gerbils, rabbits, hamsters and fish to the annual Kane County 4-H Small Pets Show Tuesday night at the Kane County Fairgrounds in St. Charles.
Cardboard panels chock-full of information and photos were on display next to pets including Squinkie the gerbil and Glurp, the three-toed box turtle.
Dana Connell, 11, of St. Charles and her 13-year-old rescue cockatiel, Riddle, made their pet show debut in the 12 & Under Junior category and represented the A Bit More 4-H Club based in Hampshire.
Dana, a new club member, said she was excited to be in her first pet show. When asked what his show qualities were, she said, "He does sing a little and has a hyperextended toe on his left foot."
About an hour later, Dana and Riddle took home two ribbons, including Class Champion.
"Riddle is now a prized show bird," she told her friends with a smile.
Another A Bit More 4-H Club member, Zachary King, 10, of South Elgin showed two of his four ferrets, Megatron and Mr. Dobbs, while giving a detailed presentation in binder form on the care of his pets. He even brought samples of their food and health care supplies, hoping to wow the judge. All his hard work paid off when he received two blue ribbons, one for each ferret.
"Well, I was hoping for a blue ribbon and suddenly, wow, it was right there. I got it!" he said
Zachary, who is on the autism spectrum, is in his second year of showing with local 4-H clubs. His father, Stephen, said he really likes him being involved in the 4-H activities.
"Being here, being able to socialize, speaking to people, getting eye contact is really good for him, because he has such a knack for pets ... It's been great."
For more information about 4-H clubs in Kane County, visit the University of Illinois Extension website at web.extension.illinois.edu.