July 9, 2024 at 2:57 p.m.

Winning project is for the birds

Clayton's recycling project intended as beed feeder
Kenzie Clayton’s winning recycling project at the Jay County Fair features old cans filled with bird feed and pencils as perches for birds to stand on. In addition to being recycling items, the pencils are a safe spot for the birds in the summer months when the cans might get hot. “That won’t get hot, so their little feet won’t get hot,” Clayton said. (The Commercial Review/Ray Cooney)
Kenzie Clayton’s winning recycling project at the Jay County Fair features old cans filled with bird feed and pencils as perches for birds to stand on. In addition to being recycling items, the pencils are a safe spot for the birds in the summer months when the cans might get hot. “That won’t get hot, so their little feet won’t get hot,” Clayton said. (The Commercial Review/Ray Cooney)

Where others might see trash, Kenzie Clayton sees a project.

Clayton, who is finishing up her 10th year of 4-H, created the Jay County Fair’s grand champion recycling project for the third time in four years with a bird feeder made from household items that might otherwise be discarded.

“This one has been my favorite project that I’ve done,” she said. “I just love crafting; I’ve always loved crafting. 

“I like making nothing into something. I always think it’s fun. And it’s not in the landfills or the ocean.”

Clayton’s creation is displayed in the Bob Schmit Memorial Exhibition Hall on the south end of the center group of tables. It features an exterior structure of wood with six cans to hold bird feed and pencils to serve as their perch.

She explained that the colors — green, blue and yellow — for the cans were selected to attract birds.

Clayton, a Portland resident, noted that the cans will get hot during the summer. Thus, the pencils.

“That won’t get hot, so their little feet won’t get hot,” she said.

Clayton also included two different types of seed — a multi-grain seed that is a favorite of sparrows and a sunflower seed that she’s found attracts finches.

Unlike other bird feeders that might be required to be attached to a pole or a tree, Clayton designed hers to be more versatile. It can be placed on a table, the ground or any other flat surface.

The project marks the second year in a row that Clayton has done something bird-related for the recycling category.

It comes naturally.

“My family have always been bird watchers,” she said. “I can just hear a bird and tell you what it is. I can see a bird and tell you what it is — male or female.”

The bird feeder is Clayton’s sixth recycling project for 4-H. Previous efforts have included turning her grandmother’s old suitcase — it's the one she carried with her when she emigrated from Germany — into a to-go case for Barbie dolls.

During her 10 years in 4-H, and another three in mini 4-H before that, she also participated in collections, photography and gardening projects. One of her gift-wrapping projects was selected for the state fair.

Her bird-related 4-H recycling project that earned her a grand champion honor last year featured an inverted flower pot, a pie dish and a wine glass. It was a combination bird bath and bird feeder.

It carried special meaning following the death of her grandmother Donna Tyndall.

“She was really my inspiration for 4-H,” said Clayton. “She loved birds. We would just go outside and watch birds. 

“It was great to honor her that way and then also win grand champion. That was my dedication to her.”

After graduating from Jay County High School last month — she competed for the Patriot girls swim team and performed as part of the show choir during her four years — she will attend Ball State University in the fall. She plans to major in pre-vet with a minor in radiology.

The goal is to become a vet tech.

As for her finish to her 4-H career, she’s excited to close with her favorite project being a winner.

“It’s an honor,” Clayton said. “For my last project that I’m doing, this is my last year in 4-H — I’m done, but then, I did it.”

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