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Taneytown native Marissa Roberts aging out of 4-H in style with another scholarship award

Marissa Roberts
Marissa Roberts (Courtesy Photo)

This year’s Maryland State Fair was closed to the general public amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which created a unique environment for 4-H veterans such as Marissa Roberts.

The Taneytown native said she chose to attend and be part of the virtual livestock auction, where Roberts got a chance to show some of her Guernsey dairy cattle. The effects of the coronavirus weren’t going to keep Roberts from missing out on her last chance to be a part of the event, she said.

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And Roberts was rewarded once again for her well-rounded agricultural resume. The Francis Scott Key High School graduate is one of this year’s four winners of the F. Grove Miller Maryland State Fair Scholarship, after receiving the same honor in 2019.

Roberts gets $2,000 toward her college tuition. She’s a sophomore at Mount St. Mary’s, a member of the Mountaineers’ swimming and diving team, and pursuing a degree in sports management.

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The scholarship goes to Maryland youth who have participated as exhibitors at the Maryland State Fair and are enrolled in a post-secondary college or trade school, or were entering their freshman year at college, according to a state fair news release. Applicants completed an essay on the impact of their experience participating in the Maryland State Fair and how the scholarship will be beneficial in helping them with their career goals.

“I’ve always been told if there’s a scholarship out there that applies to you, apply for it,” Roberts said. “You never know who’s going to enter, or what you could possibly get.”

Roberts said she gained some inspiration after watching an older cousin go through the state fair scholarship process. She decided to apply last year and earned one of the top prizes, and had a chance to try again in 2020.

“I just decided, you know what? Let me look at these state fair scholarships to see which ones I feel suit me best, which ones I could apply for,” Roberts said. “So far it worked out pretty well for me, thankfully.”

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This year’s state fair felt different without the usual crowds, Roberts said, but by attending she was able to connect with some people she only sees showing animals a few times each year. That made the task of keeping up with college classes and the her 4-H obligations worthwhile, she said.

Roberts said she thinks her goal of being as balanced as possible within the 4-H community is paying off in the form of awards.

Roberts has been a 4-H exhibitor at the state fair for more than 10 years, showing foods, plants, flowers, crafts, canning, vegetables, photography, and floral arrangements, as well as market goats and her dairy cattle.

Roberts has also helped educate children at the state fair’s U-Learn Farm. She showed fairgoers how to hand-milk a cow with the Guernsey breeders.

Roberts received one of five Maryland Farm Bureau scholarships in March of 2019, which was also good for $2,000 toward her college tuition. Roberts is a longtime member of the Taneytown-based Rolling Clovers 4-H Club, and said her participation in a variety of activities over the years has helped shaped her 4-H focus.

“I’ve always wanted to be that kind of person that I looked up to when I was younger,” Roberts said. “A lot of people ... hear about 4-H and they’re like, ‘Oh yeah, that’s just you walking a cow around a ring, or walking a pig.’ It’s so much more than that.”

The other F. Grove Miller scholarship winners for 2020 are Brietta Latham of Thurmont in Frederick County, Lesley Porterfield of Chesapeake Beach in Calvert County, and Caroline Saathoff of Denton in Caroline County.

Marissa Roberts, a Francis Scott Key High School graduate, shows one of her cows at the 2020 Maryland State Fair.
Marissa Roberts, a Francis Scott Key High School graduate, shows one of her cows at the 2020 Maryland State Fair. (Courtesy Photo/Marissa Roberts)

“Since its inception in 1879, agriculture education has been one of the Maryland State Fair’s top priorities,” Maryland State Fair General Manager Andy Cashman said in a news release. “Our competitive scholarships highlight and reward the accomplishments of youth, help them with their educational pursuits, and promote the importance of agriculture to our state and our world.”

Roberts is aging out of the 4-H world, but she said she won’t be eliminating it from her lifestyle. It runs deep in her family ― Roberts said her grandmother and mother have held leadership roles, and she had a niece and nephew about to become of age to participate.

Roberts said she also wants to look into gaining volunteer training experience so she can help with future fairs.

“It’s always been a big part of my life,” Roberts said. “I can’t imagine my life without some kind of 4-H in it.”

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