SWITZ CITY -- Mariah Morgan of West Lafayette spends summers in Greene County, where the Julian and Sandy Huffman family have gotten her involved in 4-H.
Sandy Huffman said her oldest daughter, Juli, used to work with Mariah's mom at Indiana Packers Plant near Lafayette and baby-sat with Mariah when she was a toddler.
"We just latched onto her," Huffman said. "We get her holidays and all summer."
Mariah said she was 3 years old when the Huffmans invited her spend a week with them.
"The next year I went for the whole summer," she said.
That summer excursion led to many more for Morgan, who's now almost 15 and a sophomore at Harrison High School just north of West Lafayette.
"They're like a second family to me," she said. "They've gotten me through a lot of things."
They also got her involved in 4-H, where she shows livestock and enters a variety of other projects at the Greene County 4-H Fair. This year, Huffman said Morgan took veterinary science, food preservation, foods, sheep, goats and swine.
She received grand champion honors in vet science, reserve grand champion in food preservation, and a blue ribbon in foods. She also showed a champion Suffolk lamb and was named top senior sheep showman and top senior goat showman. In addition, she won the senior divison milking contest at Thursday's 4-H goat show. Later that night, she was named runner-up in the prestigous round robin 4-H Grand Championship Showman contest.
"I've met a lot of new friends, and I think 4-H is a really great program," Morgan said.
"It's amazing what 4-H can do for people."
She said being involved in the program has changed her in many ways. She said it teaches good sportsmanship and responsibility and introduces youth to new people.
"The support is great," she said. "They're behind you all the way in 4-H."
While Morgan could be involved in Tippecanoe County 4-H at home, Huffman said it just wouldn't be the same for the teen.
"She wouldn't have any place to keep animals up there," said Huffman, a veteran 26-year leader of the Adventurer's 4-H Club.
Morgan enjoys showing animals with the Huffmans and travels to shows with them throughout the year. She said the Huffman children -- Juli, Jodi and Andy -- all were 10-year 4-H members and have taken her under their wings to teach her how to handle animals in the show ring.
"They've all won the round robin," she said. "They've all helped me get through a lot in six years (of 4-H). I enjoy being around them. It's a privilege to know them."
Morgan is the daughter of Sandy Morgan and Gabriel Rosas of West Lafayette.