A couple of years ago, Hana Elmore earned reserve champion for her 4-H photography poster in the Jackson County Fair and had it displayed at the Indiana State Fair.

She thought that was as far as her photos would go.

But in March 2014, she received a letter from Purdue University asking her to submit copies of three of her 10 photographs to be used in a publication that would be distributed across Indiana and the nation to farmers, statisticians, agribusinesses and libraries.

Time passed, and she hadn’t heard anything. But earlier this year, a package arrived at her home in Seymour.

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Inside was a letter from the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service congratulating her on having two of her photos published in Indiana Agricultural Statistics 2013-2014. She also received three copies of the publication.

“I was pretty excited,” the 12-year-old said, smiling.

“I couldn’t really sleep the first couple of nights because I was thinking about it. I was wondering if I was in a dream or if it was real. I just called everybody, and I showed everybody.”

It was a proud moment for her mother, Susie Elmore, considering the photos were from Hana’s first year of 4-H.

“We had prepared her, ‘There are a lot of kids at the fair. You’ve done a great job. If you win something, great; and if you don’t, that’s OK, too,’” Susie Elmore said. “So for her to place (at the county fair) and then go to the state fair and then this to happen, we’re pretty proud. We were kind of just expecting a blue ribbon at the fair, not a nationwide publication, but we’ll take it.”

A photo Hana took of her sister, Hayle, and cousin, Katie Deppen, standing in front of cornstalks appears on Page 25, and a photo of green apples sitting on a table at her grandparents’ house is on Page 67.

Those were among 10 photos on her poster for the 2013 Jackson County Fair. The theme was “Experiences in Color.”

“I wanted to have lots of colorful things rather than just a few colors,” Hana said.

She also took pictures from different angles, getting close up on the apples and even laying on the ground to capture another photo.

“Some of the things, the lighting was bad, so I had to try different angles,” Hana said. “I thought they were cool, and I liked them, so then I just kept on doing it for all other kinds of things.”

Susie Elmore said her daughter became interested in photography at 3 years old. Hana went from using a children’s camera to taking pictures on an iPod to now using a Canon SX106 IS camera. She also maintains a blog with her photos.

“I like taking pictures because the other day with my cousins, we were just looking through old pictures, and it makes you remember so many more things that happened that you forgot,” Hana said.

After one year of Mini 4-H, Hana joined the Sauers 4-H Club. Along with photography, her projects include tractor club, consumer clothing, sewing and sheep.

With photography, each 4-H’er receives a manual with a variety of activities, which helps them work with lighting, filling the frame and taking better pictures. They then put their photos on a poster.

“With 4-H, there’s at least one thing that every single person would like that’s their interest and their hobby,” Hana said.

From going to club meetings to working on projects to showing at the fair, 4-H is a lot of work, but it’s all worth it, she said.

“What I look forward to every time is when it’s time to start my projects,” she said. “I love the fair, and I love animals, so the fair is my favorite time out of the whole year.”

Hana said being involved in 4-H has made a big impact on her life. She and her younger sister are both home-schooled, and Susie Elmore said 4-H has taught them important life skills.

“In one of (Hana’s) projects, she had to learn how to iron clothes and sort laundry. I didn’t learn to do that stuff until I moved out,” Susie said. “One of the projects they do is called tractor club, and they are with their dad a lot on the tractors and the combine and the semi. It teaches them about the safety precautions that they need to take.”

Also, before 4-H, Susie said Hana was very shy. That’s no longer the case.

“She has actually, I think, come out of her shell more,” Susie said. “In two of the projects that she has done, consumer clothing and sewing, you actually have to introduce yourself on a stage in front of whoever is there watching. She has been very poised doing that, just to speak with adults when they question her about her projects.”

Zach Spicer is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at zspicer@tribtown.com or 812-523-7080.