Colby Burke stands beside a group of Pee Wees from a past Pershing County 4-H Junior Livestock Show.
Colby Burke stands beside a group of Pee Wees from a past Pershing County 4-H Junior Livestock Show.
She’s in it for the long haul. After 17 years as a volunteer with the Pershing County 4-H, Colby Burke steps forward as its new youth leader.

“I’m passionate about giving our young people the opportunity to learn through 4-H,” she says. “It’s an experience they don’t get with other extracurricular activities.”

Burke signs onto the role at a precarious time. Longtime director Marianne Papa retired several years ago, after about 20 years on the job. Since then, the club has faced a rapid turnover of leaders.

A shooting sports program with shotgun and archery showed momentum until the departure of the most recent youth coordinator.

“I am hoping to get shooting sports up and going again,” says Burke.

Also, the pandemic has introduced a learning curve into everyone’s lives. 

The Nevada 4-H recently hosted a Zoom meeting to outline its regulations.

 Like other youth leaders, Burke walks a tightrope. She must build and sustain programs while learning and adhering to new safety rules.

On the plus side, the Pershing County 4-H enjoys loyal community support. Every year, its awards banquet draws 100 or more supporters and members. 

Volunteers are the backbone of the organization. Some have taught generations of 4-Hers. For example, in 2018, Tom Moura received his ruby award pin for 50 years of service. Marianne Papa still pops in to teach the art and science of candy making. Burke shares her knowledge of raising sheep and goats.

If anyone can navigate these choppy waters, it’s Colby Burke. Her love of the outdoors dates back to her years at Moapa Valley High School (Class of 1995), where she joined FFA and excelled in rodeo.

In 1998, Burke put roots down in Lovelock. She and her husband, J.P., run a thriving cattle ranch and hay farm, Diamond J Trucking. 

Their family includes McKenzie, 21, Cassidy, 17 and Jacob, 14.

The Burke sisters burned up the soccer and softball fields for the Lady Mustangs. McKenzie helped win the school’s first state softball championship in 2016.They also share an interest in veterinary science. 

After graduating with the Class of 2016, McKenzie joined the Air National Guard. Her travels have taken her to Bangla Desh and Thailand. For now, she’s in Reno.

Cassidy (Class of 2019) is headed to Treasure Valley Community College (TVCC) in Ontario, Ore. She’ll play soccer for the Chukars. 

Jacob, a baseball player, starts eighth grade this fall. 

Many people remember his performances in the elementary school plays, especially as Judge Geppeto in the Big Bad Musical (2018), powdered wig and all. The three siblings grew up in 4-H.

Pershing County 4-H’s current clubs include livestock (beef, swine, goats, sheep, horses and turkeys), candy making, cooking, sign language, arts and crafts, baseball, softball, sewing and hot air ballooning.

In addition to shooting sports, Burke hopes to start several new clubs, including a community garden. Other ideas include bicycling, self-defense, dog training and raising rabbits.

“I am beyond excited for the future of 4-H and hope to sustain and add opportunities to make the best better,” she says.

For more information about the Pershing County 4-H, contact Colby Burke at 273-2923. 

The 4-H is always looking for adults to lead clubs. They are also open to suggestions about future clubs.