Judging is piece of cake for this 4-Her

She can spot the work of carefully scalloped frosting and doesn’t need a recipe to whip up a tasty batter.

At age 15, Kassandra Hedgecock can cook and decorate a cake like a pro.

So, when no adults stepped up this year to be superintendent for the 4-H Club’s cake decorating and cooking competitions, Hedgecock’s hand shot up.

“I’ve gotten some weird looks, but nobody’s said anything,” Hedgecock said of being the youngest person in recent memory to lead a local 4-H program. “I think they were just happy somebody’s doing it.”

Hedgecock, a sophomore at Grand Junction High School, has been involved in 4-H for six years, a process that helped fuel her transformation from being shy to confident and independent, she said.

As superintendent, Hedgecock is responsible for either judging or locating a judge for the Cake Decorating and Creative Cooks competitions. She also must plan the competition dates and secure donations to purchase presents for top award winners.

Those tasty contests occurred recently, with winners qualifying for the Colorado State Fair competitions.

Although only one other 4-H member, Jessica Casebolt, competed in the recent cake decorating competition, the event wouldn’t have been possible at all without Hedgecock’s volunteer spirit.

“People deserve the chance to do it, even if there’s only one cake,” she said. “I’m willing to run it if no one else is going to do it.”

Dinah Peebles, Mesa County 4-H Youth Extension Agent, said it’s encouraging that Hedgecock decided to step up when no other adults did.

“It’s kind of like pay it forward,” Peebles said. “It’s a really big step for Kassandra to take that step forward. More young people should step forward.”

A few years ago, one of Hedgecock’s cake creations was a play on roasted marshmallows. She created snowmen out of marshmallows, dyed rice green to resemble grass, placed rock candy like stones and arranged the spongy marshmallow men around a fire created from Fruit Roll-Ups.

Meal preparation and creating a lovely cake may seem like common life skills for adults, but basic kitchen know-how has largely escaped youths, Hedgecock said.

“Most people can boil water, make coffee and add milk to cereal, but that’s about it,” she said. “I had a friend who couldn’t make fried rice, and the directions were right on the box.”

As a member of the 4-H Orchard Mesa Clovers, Hedgecock has never taken on raising an animal for competition.

Instead, her projects have included photography, sewing, clothes decorating, veterinary science and a section called global citizenship, in which 4-H members research, host an international friend and travel to a foreign country.

In addition to gaining a new cache of skills, the experiences have allowed her to feel more comfortable talking with strangers.

Hedgecock is considering career paths of either becoming a chef, a social worker or a teacher.

“Without 4-H, I think I’d be a lot less confident in talking to people,” she said. “I probably wouldn’t be as independent or outgoing.”

Youths interested in joining 4-H clubs and taking on projects can contact the Tri-River Area 4-H at 244-1834.


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