Joanne Roberson likes photography and scrapbooking; she studied photography and art in school; she likes substituting for teachers; and she likes kids - with a big emphasis on the kids.
For 13 years, Roberson worked as a paraprofessional in the special education program for fifth- and sixth-graders at Craig Intermediate School. She quit that job last October. Now, Roberson substitutes in all of the Craig schools. It's a job that she enjoys.
And then, there's 4-H.
"Kids and 4-H are what it's all about," she said. "It's about the kids learning leadership, citizenship, teamwork, responsibility and sportsmanship."
A 4-H leader of 13 years, Roberson is Moffat County's Outstanding 4-H Leader for 2008. She received her award during the annual 4-H Achievement Night on the evening of Nov. 7.
Roberson was a photography leader for two years, a poultry leader for four years, and she has been a leader of the Purple Circle Swine 4-H Club for seven years. The club, which focuses only on swine projects, averages about 12 members each year,
"Leaders are just guides," Roberson said. "The Purple Circle Swine Club members work together. Information about completing a successful project is passed around by the members."
"Kids work hard all year long on their projects," Roberson continued. "When people go to the fair, they just see the end results. They don't see the year's hard work and dedication in preparing the project."
Roberson added, "I want the kids to know that it's not the money that they receive after the Junior Livestock Sale that's important - it's what they learned to get there."
Members of the Purple Circle Swine Club choose their pigs around spring break. The weigh-in is held in May.
Sometimes, but not every year, club members go to each other's homes, visiting their swine projects. Members Tyler and Keenan Hildebrandt hold clinics on swine showmanship at their home, though also not every year. (Tyler and Keenan have been Champion Swine Showmen at the Moffat County Fair.)
Roberson is proud of the good sportsmanship exhibited by the Purple Circle Swine members. The club has received the Herdsman Award twice.
The award is given to a club whose members help other 4-H members during the fair and, keeping visitors in mind, keep alleyways and pens presentable.
But completing their swine projects isn't all that Roberson's club members do. They also plan and participate in community service projects and fundraisers.
Fundraisers include an ATV Wash and several barbecues, all held at Murdoch's in Craig. Roberson says the Purple Circle Swine members enjoy doing fundraisers at Murdoch's.
The money earned from fundraising is given back to the community. Examples include donating money to the 4-H Foundation Scholarship Fund and to the Food Bank.
Members have done lots of community service projects, too. They made 50 placemats for the residents of Sandrock Ridge Care and Rehabilitation Center in Craig. They also made valentines for people in the hospital, and they always plant flowers at the Moffat County Extension Office in the spring.
The Purple Circle Swine Club's most recent endeavor is to send handmade cards to servicemen and servicewomen in Iraq, encouraging them and saying, "Thanks for a good job."
Besides leading the Purple Circle Swine Club, Roberson can be found helping with a variety of other 4-H projects. During the Moffat County Fair, for example, she drives a golf cart, giving fairgoers rides from the parking lot to different locations on the fairgrounds. Especially memorable was the year Roberson drove the golf cart during several days of pouring rain.
She helps with 4-H Completion Day and has served on the Moffat County Fair Board since 2002. This is Roberson's last year on the board.
Roberson and 4-H Youth Development Agent Alisa Comstock coordinate the Moffat County Fair Queen events, including the royalty's participation in parades, radio announcements, and more.
Roberson's photography background has been helpful in preparing queen photos and special dedication photos for fair events, though she does not take fair photos.
Roberson and her husband, Al, have a son, Devin, who is now 25 years old. Roberson said she first got involved in 4-H when Devin joined, taking projects in poultry and swine.
The Purple Circle Swine Club members and Roberson are grateful for all the help provided by the ladies at the Moffat County Extension office involving a wide variety of information about projects.
"The behind-the-scenes stuff is important, " she said.
Roberson has a message for all community kids, whether they're in 4-H or not. "If you participate, you're a winner," she said. " If you do your best, you have nothing to be ashamed of."