Polk County 4-H member Catie Erickson figured it was a waste to pull an empty trailer when it could instead be filled with donated supplies

    Polk County 4-H member Catie Erickson of Fertile was planning to drive to Nebraska soon to pick up and bring back a lamb she’d won as part of a 4-H contest. Knowing how much of the state and so many of its farmers had been ravaged by devastating spring flooding, Erickson asked herself, why drive down there with an empty trailer when it, instead, could be filled with donated supplies for flooded farmers?

    Erickson’s brainstorm has grown into something pretty big, Erin Kelly-Collins with U of M’s Extension Center for Youth Development, tells the Times.

    “Her idea spread, and it’s turned into…she had more than $3,000 in donations and supplies even before today,” Kelly-Collins said.

    “Today” was Wednesday, when Erickson and some helpers from the University of Minnesota Crookston parked a trailer adorned with a sign and some red ribbons in front of Fleet Supply in Crookston and encouraged customers and passers-by to contribute to the cause.

    Erickson was planning a lone trip to Nebraska with a loaded 25-foot long trailer, Kelly-Collins said. But with so many supply donations piling up, a second trailer is looking like it’ll be necessary.

    Katie Becker, Polk County 4-H coordinator, is running the logistics of the donation drive, the trip to Nebraska, and where the donations will be dropped off. The town Erickson initially planned to drive to has had many donated items dropped off already, Kelly-Collins said, but there are many other towns and farmers still in need. “There are multiple drop-off places,” she said. “They’re being reassigned to another community with a lot of needs.”

    Wednesday at Fleet Supply, customers could buy and donate feed for cattle, sheep, goals or other animals, calf bottles, fencing tools, wire posts and other items. Private donations are also being accepted at Northern Sky Bank in Crookston.

    Erickson and her helpers are looking to depart for Nebraska on Friday. Kelly-Collins said they’ll be chronicling their adventures on social media.

    “This is what 4-H is all about,” Kelly-Collins said. “Seeing a problem and having the skills and confidence to make a difference.”