JUDA — It hasn’t always been the success that’s seemingly come naturally to Emily Makos that’s brought her the most joy over the years during her time in 4-H, FFA and agriculture.
Although she’s seen her fair share of accomplishments, the recent Juda graduate has a large sense of pride that’s also come from those she’s helped along the way.
“People think she loves the spotlight, but she truly doesn’t,” her mother and 4-H leader, Jody said. “She’s probably happier in the background, pushing others to be their best.”
At past fairs, when the top 10 rabbits were named — many times the majority of the winners came from Emily’s lineage.
“She loves to see other kids excel with her stuff,” Jody said. “It’s almost better than winning herself.”
Green County Fair
Emily Makos had high expectations for this year’s fair and planned to take two photography projects, some crafts, a cow, rabbits and chickens.
Emily’s younger sister, Ellie, 5, has been the subject of many of her photo projects — taken either on the farm or by a nearby pond. Last’s year’s photo submission was Ellie wearing Emily’s Dairy Queen crown and sash with a cow. This year, she hoped to take another photo of young Ellie in the midst of farm life.
“I was excited for that,” Emily said.
Emily served as the Green County Dairy Princess for 2018-19 and said she loved the experience of traveling all over Wisconsin, meeting people.
“It really opened my eyes to everything Wisconsin has in agriculture organizations,” Emily said.
She also missed out on taking a handful of rabbits, where she would typically sell one at auction along with her chickens, which are sold as a pair that she shows with her brother, Aaron.
Emily was also looking forward to showing Darla, the baby of her first owned jersey cow, Delilah, that she showed for five years. Delilah passed away last year, leaving behind her and other 4-H members’ unforgettable memories.
“She was a very sweet cow,” Emily said. “The kids could lead her — she was a big baby and everyone loved her.”
I was hoping there would still be a fair. I made a lot of memories there. I kind of knew in my heart it probably wouldn’t be safe to have a fair.Emily Makos
Emily has received numerous awards over the years, and is especially proud of receiving grand champion awards for her rabbits — which were home bred and added to the excitement. She also took home a showmanship award for dairy when she was younger. Her photography skills have also brought success.
“It’s heartwarming for me when I do well,” Emily said. “It makes me feel like all my hard work has paid off.”
Emily said when she learned the Green County Fair had been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she said she was upset, mostly, for the memories she’ll miss out on.
“After I thought about it, I accepted the fact that they’re just trying to keep us safe,” Emily said. “Part of me feels like it was a disappointment just because I love the memories.”
The disappointments that have come alongside the COVID-19 pandemic have been plenty after her senior year, including losing out on her final softball season as a star pitcher, but she’s taken them in stride.
“I was hoping there would still be a fair,” she said. “I made a lot of memories there. I kind of knew in my heart it probably wouldn’t be safe to have a fair.”
She’ll now adjust, and sell chickens to family and friends, and will look to sell some more rabbits as well.
A typical fair week brings early mornings, beginning the Sunday before to work on displays. The Makos family provides facts on their animals for onlookers to educate themselves a little about what they do on their farm. In days that lead up to the fair, the Makos family preps areas for their dairy cows, checks in projects, washes cattle, feeds animals and ends the week with packing it all up.
They often stay late in the evenings as well, making sure all of the animals are safe and comfortable for their sleepovers.
Although she isn’t as into the late nights at the midway like in her younger days, Emily said she missed seeing friends with their projects, catching up and the 4-H pizza party that always lessens the stress of the fair competition.
Emily will still be able to contribute next summer, although with college on the horizon, she admits it may likely be less than her busy high school years.
When Jody had to break the news to her 4-H club, and Emily, that the Green County Fair was canceled, she said it was difficult, but they weren’t completely surprised.
“I’m a nurse, so I saw it coming,” she said. “It was sad, but I totally understood and all of the 4-Hers understood that we have to be safe.”
Although the fair is an “awesome finale” for 4-H groups who work on projects for months, Jody said she assured them that it was only a “small piece of the puzzle” and that everything they do is still important.
4-H brings love, lessons
The family doesn’t live on a dairy farm but reside less than two miles from Jody’s parents’ farm; they have allowed the Makos children to keep their large animals there and it’s where Emily has kept her jersey cows.
The Makos family has a hobby farm just outside of Juda with Jody and father, Eric, and Emily said that’s where her love of animals began. Like most children, Emily liked bunnies and around 8 years old she received a New Zealand White for her birthday. It was the start of a lifelong love. Once the family then attended a rabbit show, she was hooked.
Today, Emily raises hundreds of rabbits, selling some for dog food, others for human consumption, therapy pets and, of course, she keeps some for herself to enjoy as pets and to show at the fair. Now Emily raises meat rabbits to sell as well as provides show bunnies to other 4-H members. She also helps guide them to do their best.
4-H has been a part of Emily’s life for nearly as long as she can remember. She started as a Cloverbud, likely around age 6. She followed in some footsteps of older members, getting interested in things like photography and other crafts.
People think she loves the spotlight, but she truly doesn’t. She’s probably happier in the background, pushing others to be their best.Jody Makos, Emily's mother
“I watched older members and they really became my mentors,” Emily said.
Jody has led Spring Grove Honest Workers for about six years but has always been involved with the group. She actually grew up in the same 4-H club and has fond memories of dedicated leaders who opened their homes and hearts through the years.
She said she’s watched her daughter find the same love for agriculture and develop a passion to also become a quiet leader, often serving as a “calm in the darkness” for younger 4-H members who might need a little help along the way.
When Emily started, she would take her rabbits to other experts who could tell her which were good to keep and which should be culled. Now, Emily provides her own expertise for other 4-Hers looking for advice, truly coming full circle with the group.
The memories of 4-H are what will always stick with her, Emily said, like finding the strangest items along the highway during the cleanup events and getting caught in a rainstorm with a group one year at the fair and hiding under a tarp.
Emily plans to attend Concordia University in Mequon to study occupational therapy and hopes one day to incorporate animals into her work. She’s spending her summer working at Caravel Autism Health where she works with youth as well.
Jody said the house will be quieter without Emily, who often finds solace in instruments and singing, which has become the background in the Makos household.