GREAT FALLS – 4-H members stepped back in time this week to learn the history of the American Frontier during the 4-H Western Heritage Project.

Youth who are attending the National 4-H Western Heritage Conference in Fort Benton, which started Tuesday, were able to participate in the project.

Organizers said the event started eight years ago in Montana with a group of six kids. Since then, the event has grown to around 1,400 youth each year in more than a dozen states.

Members and their families were invited to dress up in full western garb from the mid-1800’s to 1900’s while also competing with firearms from the era.

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Youth were required to develop a persona with their costumes and will take a history exam of the area towards the end of the project.

“You can really catch the history bug by participating in something where you get to actually do something rather than just listen to a lecture or try and memorize a book,” said Chouteau County Agriculture and 4-H Agent Todd Kesner.

Attendees from around the country said they’ve enjoyed learning more about the west while visiting the treasure state.

“The weather this year’s a lot better than it was last year, it’s not as warm there’s not as much humidity here as there is in Missouri, but as far as I know everybody I’ve talked to has told me that their just having a great time,” said 4-H Ambassador and Missouri Resident Hunter Todd.

The Western Heritage Project and the national conference continue through Friday morning with an awards banquet in Fort Benton on Thursday evening.

For more information and a schedule of events, click here.