Greenup County fair

Morgan Jones, Georgia Gehringer, Shelby McCormick, Brianna Picklesimer, Brooklynn Wireman, Emma Stevens, Elissa McCormick, Natalie Billups, Montanna Staten. Also in the photo are Cheeto the bunny and Chickadee the sheep. Photo by Charles Romans.

A Greenup County student -- with the help of her fellow students -- created a program to help special needs students enjoy 4-H activities at the Greenup County Fair.

“I’ve been in 4-H for ten years,” Greenup County High School sophomore Natalie Billups said.

Billups began when she was 5 years old, and said that 4-H is a fantastic program for kids to get interested in.

“It does a lot for the community,” she said.

The proof of her statement is when 4-H students such as Billups become involved in helping others in the community, as she did with a program for special needs students which she spearheaded for the 2018 Greenup County Fair.

The Greenup County Extension agent, Aaron Boyd, had nothing but praise for the sophomore and her initiative.

“She has done everything herself, and I couldn’t be more proud of her,” Boyd said.

Billups organized a program for special needs students to be able to enjoy the fair in a safe environment.

“A lot of these kids have anxiety, don’t have transportation, or just can’t handle the crowds at the fair at night,” Billups said.

Billups said she believed that by having a time during the day, before the crowds and the noise levels increased, it would allow the students to enjoy the fair the way that she had enjoyed the fair for so many years.

The program began with a Billups’ idea, and she discussed it with her parents. Then she had to contact Extension Agent Boyd, to see which day would be the best for the program, and they decided on Friday. At that point, Billups went to the Fair Board to determine how much money she would need to raise to make her program a reality.

“The Fair Board was great,” Billups said. “They agreed to let me do it, and didn’t charge admission for any of the students.”

This was in Billups’ estimation essentially a $1,000 donation to her program, given that she expected 100 students and that admission is ten dollars.

The support Billups received continued when she went to the Greenup County Board of education for transportation. Though she was prepared again to raise money, The Board of Education arranged the transportation without a fee to Billups program. The stipulation was that Billups speak with the teachers of all of the students who would attend in order to determine if there were any allergy issues, or any necessary additional requirements.

“We did need to get snacks and drinks for everyone, and the Livestock Committee helped with that,” Billups said.

The committee donated $200 to cover refreshments.

Billups said the response has been very positive, and she hopes to continue having the program every year, and hopes to ‘pass it down’ to her younger sister who is currently in seventh grade.

Tonya Billups, Natalie’s mother, said that she is very proud of her daughter. “This is something she wanted to do, because she has a special place in her heart for special needs students,” Tonya Billups said. “We are very proud of her.”