Story County 4-H Alumnus reaches one of her Dream Goals

Katie Collins is a Story County 4-H alumnus of the Washington Happenings 4-H Club.  She dreamed and worked toward her goal to one day be an exhibitor in the Westminster Dog Show.  Her dream became reality when she exhibited February 10-11, 2013 at the Westminster Kennel Club 137th Annual All Breed Dog Show in New York.  Katie commented on her recent experience, “Getting the opportunity to experience Westminster was a dream come true. Ever since I was a kid, I had the dream of attending. The thrill of seeing all of the top winning dogs in one place was an amazing opportunity. The chance of getting to take a dog in the ring for Best of Breed was icing on the cake. On top of that, I placed with the German Shepherd, originally I made the cut which is exciting in itself, I took him back in the ring and got awarded Best of Winners.”

During her 4-H years, her love and passion for horses and dogs, specifically Golden Retrievers, was evident.  She participated in the Story County 4-H Dog Project Program each year, working with her dog to prepare for exhibition at the Story County 4-H Fair and the Iowa State Fair 4-H Dog Show.  Her interest expanded beyond 4-H as she participated in the Cyclone Country Kennel Club and exhibited in American Kennel Club Shows.  Katie also started her own business in high school grooming dogs for clients and continued her business into her college years.  It will be almost a year ago since Katie moved to South Carolina to further fulfill her dreams.

“It was my pleasure to have Katie in the 4-H dog project for many years.  She came to us a shy little girl participating in the Clover Kid program and she barely uttered a word. She was so scared to speak to anyone but her family and her dogs as a young elementary age girl.  But, as she matured and her dog showing skills improved, Katie blossomed into a very competent young woman through the 4-H dog project.  It has been wonderful to now follow her progress as a professional groomer and handler and I was thrilled to see Katie showing at Westminster.  It made me very proud to know that Katie was a part of the Story County Dog Project while I was one of the leaders.” Shared by Sally Shaver DuBois, retired Story County 4-H Dog Project Leader.

Katie has had many mentors along the way to learn from as her love for dogs grew. 

“My parents were huge supporters allowing me to pursue my dream to show dogs competitively, believing in me that I could do it and succeed. I was fortunate to start showing dogs in 4-H, starting in Kindergarten and finishing up my senior year of high school. I started showing dogs in the American Kennel Club (AKC) when I was in Fourth Grade and have competed ever since. Without my parents support I would not be where I am today. I can’t thank them enough for allowing me to follow my dream of showing dogs and working with dogs every day. I would also like to thank Val Hinz, Sally Shaver, and Bebe Mabry all dog superintendents that have helped me throughout my involvement in the 4-H dog project. They all taught me how to teach my dogs obedience and helped perfect my handling skills. And the members of the Cyclone Country Kennel Club were also great mentors. 

Steve Davidson was a huge supporter of mine growing up. Steve took me under his wing and allowed me to help him train and show his Golden Retrievers, and Australian Shepherd. Steve took me to shows, taught me how to groom the golden’s and allowed me to help in getting the dogs ready for the show ring. Steve also helped me perfect my handling skills on making the dog look its best going around the ring and getting the dog stacked for the judge. I can’t thank him enough for believing in me.”

Participating in experiences supporting small and big goals set has taken one 4-H’er from her home county to a national dream!  4-H is a youth development program through Iowa State University Extension and Outreach with a mission to empower youth to reach their full potential through youth-adult partnerships and research-based experiences.  Youth explore their interests and participate in a club experience.  Additional opportunities are available at county, state, and national levels.  The 4-H program is available to youth in grades K-3 with an annual fee of $5 and to youth in grades 4-12 with an annual fee of $30. 

To learn about Story County 4-H opportunities, contact the Story County ISU Extension and Outreach office at 515-382-6551, email, visit them at 220 H Avenue in Nevada or visit

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