MONTCALM TOWNSHIP — This is Ethan Vance’s last year as a 4-H’er.
“I went out with a bang,” he said.
Indeed he did.
The 19-year-old from Hubbardston won Best in Show this year for a hot tub he recycled into a koi pond. He also won three poultry awards — championship water fowl, championship wild fowl and championship showman — and the Smucker Leadership Award.
Vance has been a 4-H’er for 15 years. He is a member of the Country Kids 4-H Club in Crystal.
“When it comes to my projects, I have high standards,” he said.
Vance has been an aquarium fish enthusiast for several years. He wanted to go into something bigger, but the price of koi ponds left him cold.
Then his parents accidentally acquired a nonfunctioning hot tub.
Vance’s parents wanted to throw the hot tub away, but Vance convinced them to give it to him. He worked on it from last August through this month, stripping the plumbing, sealing up the tubes, decorating it with camouflage, finding the perfect pond plants to go in it — papyrus plants and umbrella plants — and, of course, koi fish.
When the fair is done, Vance wants to bring the koi pond home and sink it into the lawn near the deck at his parents’ home.
A 2011 graduate of Carson City-Crystal High School, Vance is attending community college and wants to eventually study landscape architecture at Michigan State University.
The Country Kids 4-H Club of Crystal won Outstanding Exhibition Booth for their entire display this year, including Vance’s koi pond. Their display has a recycling theme.
The 4-H Club is passionate about community work. They planted 88 trees via an Arbor Day grant at the Montcalm County 4-H Fairgrounds last October. Fairgoers are enjoying the trees this week.
“It was nice,” said team leader Paula Plank of her club’s many awards this year. “I think it’s great.”