You might do a double-take if you see the Boehms out walking their pet around the neighborhood. It’s not a dog, or even a cat—but a sheep. Not a common sight on Boise City’s residential streets.
But raising animals, and civic responsibility, is a family affair for the Boehms. Kristin Boehm grew up in 4-H and participated all throughout her childhood. So when she and her husband started their family of four boys, they knew that 4-H was the path that they wanted for them.
“I told the kids that they couldn’t have an animal in the house unless they were doing something productive with it,” explained the self-described 4-H lifer and current civilian officer in the Garden City Police Department.
In addition to productive animals, Kristin has raised three very focused and well-spoken young men who embody core 4-H values. Her fourth son is just beginning his 4-H experience as a cloverbud.
Marcus, her oldest, is competing at this year’s Fair with his current project: a Holland Lop bunny named Sweetie, whose babies are due any minute now. “This year I’m really trying to focus on good breeding, improving her lineage. I want big bunnies.” Big, healthy bunnies, he hopes, that will win him blue ribbons for quality.
In addition to his individual project, Marcus serves as a camp counselor for 4-H Kid's Camp, and as a 4-H ambassador, spreading the “gospel” of 4-H to others.
His brother Ethan does it too—even appearing on television to highlight the benefits of 4-H—and also serves as a camp counselor to younger members and teen leader for a cloverbud bike safety program.
“The animal projects didn’t work out,” Ethan says without further explanation. Instead, the civic-minded 15-year-old chose the Know Your Government project, or KYG. KYG participants research a topic and propose a bill, with students playing the roles of legislators, reporters, and lobbyists. Ethan most recently played the role of reporter, conducting interviews with participants and ultimately reporting about the bill the students proposed—banning energy drinks from schools.
The day we met, Kristin’s younger son Logan was off at Natural Resources camp, a joint venture between 4-H and the University of Idaho. During the six-day camp, students learn about forestry, meet with wildfire fighters, and get a sense of other outdoors activities like fishing and shooting. She says he’s looking forward to his animal project next year.
So what are the chances that the youngest Boehm boy will be a 4-Her? We’re guessing greater than the chance that you’ll see a sheep on your next dog walk.