Extension News

Teens Recycle, Repurpose, Restyle Clothing with the 4-H $15 Challenge at State Fair

Note to media editors: Sue Bogue will be available to help you arrange interviews with 4-H teens who are participating in the $15 Challenge on Aug. 13, 14 and 15. Contact her at (515) 290-2897 before or during the Iowa State Fair.


AMES, Iowa — Teens are trying a different set of “3Rs” as they recycle, repurpose and restyle clothing. With a shirt from a garage sale, pants from a consignment store and a retro jacket from a second-hand shop, they put together outfits that are unique and new for them. That’s what happens during the 4-H $15 Challenge clothing event at the Iowa State Fair.

4-H teens from throughout the state — up to three 4-H’ers per county — will be competing in this “green” recycling challenge at State Fair, said Sue Bogue, program specialist with Iowa State University Extension 4-H Youth Development.

They will be modeling their $15 Challenge creations during the 4-H Revue of Fashions, Aug. 13, 14 and 15. The Revue is at noon each day at Merle Hay Mall in the Lower Bridge Court and repeated at 5 p.m. in the 4-H Exhibits Building at the Iowa State Fair.

“Their challenge is to spend no more than $15 at consignment shops, garage sales, eBay or other used clothing venues to select or purchase clothing for a complete outfit. They may not purchase new clothes at traditional retail stores for this challenge,” Bogue said.

“Selected” means its OK to use clothing from a “free” box at a garage sale, Bogue explained.

“We really are encouraging young people to expand their shopping horizons and ‘go green’ by recycling, repurposing or restyling clothing. It just makes sense to be thrifty and reuse clothing, particularly in today’s economy,” she said.

Teens who take the $15 Challenge might reuse an item in its current condition. Maybe they’ll repurpose a sweater — removing the sleeves to make a vest — or restyle a long coat into a short jacket.

“Rather than buying something under $15 just for this State Fair clothing event challenge, 4-H’ers should consider look, fit and construction as well as their wardrobe needs,” Bogue noted. “In fact, we encourage adults to learn this lesson, too. Searching for that just-right top or scarf or belt is almost more fun than finding it.” 

Last year about a third of the fashion revue participants were involved in the $15 Challenge, Bogue said. “We saw guys in suits, girls in prom dresses and about everything in between.”

4-H is a community of young people across America who are learning leadership, citizenship and life skills. In Iowa the 4-H program is headquartered on the ISU campus in Ames and offered in every county through the local ISU Extension office.


Contacts :

Sue Bogue, ISU Extension 4-H Youth Development, (515) 290-2897 before or during the Iowa State Fair, suebogue@iastate.edu

Laura Sternweis, Extension Communications and External Relations, (515) 294-0775, lsternwe@iastate.edu