Friends and Neighbors: Snyders have been active in many ag-based activities over the years


Tonia Copeland

Larry, left, and Nicole Snyder instruct students at a recent practice for the Dead Eyes 4-H Club shooters.

Kimball County residents Larry and Nicole Snyder are quite active in many outdoor and youth-related activities.

While farming and ranching, the young couple raised children, held full and part-time jobs, finished college and volunteered through many service organizations in the county.

"We had about 2,000 acres of crop ground, we built a sheep herd up to 100 head, and we had around 60 or 70 head of cows," Larry said.

"That was before kids. We got rid of the cows after Colton was born, before Madie," Nicole said.

Both Larry and Nicole were active in FFA as students and they carried that over to FFA alumni.

"We were pretty active with that until we had kids, and that puts the brakes on lots of things," Nicole said.

The couple became very passionate about the local 4-H program when their own children joined it.

"It's usually ag-based (activities) that we get involved in – well, kid-based," Nicole said. "When Colton got to be old enough for 4-H, I made the decision that I didn't want to be the extension assistant for this county anymore, I wanted to be his mom in the 4-H program."

The children took the lead and chose what to do, but they were also introduced to areas that would stretch their education.

While both children participated in extra-curricular activities at school, such as speech, volleyball, band and cheerleading, they also stayed busy with other clubs.

"Larry and I have always had the philosophy that busy kids aren't in trouble," Nicole added. "They need to be busy, active and have things to do. And of course the leadership development and the personal growth is important."

"I don't know if we gave them a choice," Larry said. "We were just going to do it because we did it as kids."

Their son, Colton, enjoyed rocketry in the 4-H program and was interested in computers as well. He showed sheep, cooked, sewed, gardened and joined robotics when it first started.

"His grandmother was one of the best cooks I've ever known, that was who she was," Nicole said. "Honestly, grandma did most of the teaching. I would sign him up for stuff but lots of times him and grandma would decide what he was going to cook," Nicole said. "Grandpa used to love it when the kids would come out because then he got to eat the practice."

Eventually, Colton became very involved in Boy Scouts, so Larry and Nicole became assistant scout leaders, leading the Webelos for a number of years and took the scouts on many campouts.

"We are outdoorsy type people," Nicole said. "We like to camp, we like to fish, when we have time."

"We just leave and go do it," Larry added. "And when you get back everything is piled up waiting for you."

Their daughter, Madison, is now a junior in high school, and she has also been involved in all aspects of 4-H as well

In her freshman year of high school, Madie cheered, played volleyball and basketball and ran track. She was also heavily involved in the Dead Eyes 4-H Club.

"That's when she really started to qualify for some of these national events," Nicole said. "So she has learned that she can't do everything."

Madie began her career in shooting at 8 years old, when her competitive spirit drove her to excel.

"We weren't leading the club yet at that time, but we were going to all the events. There were about five boys that were the exact same age that she was. And she was very competitive with those little boys," Nicole said. "In fact, I have an essay that she wrote when she was in like fifth or sixth grade about kicking the boys' butts."

"You find what your kids excel at and you chase it hard. With Colton it was science camps and made sure he got the intellectual things he wanted and needed. With Madie it is shooting so we are going to chase that hard," Nicole added. "Kids need to have success and we focus on that.

"Madie has qualified for the International Standing Air Rifle Junior Olympics in Colorado Springs. It's like the 18,19, and 20 of April."

"Precision is crazy," Larry said. "You've got to be way up there."

Madie wants to shoot in college, and Larry and Nicole hope to help her get there.

The Snyders' passion for helping their own children thrive has evolved into a passion for all the young people in Kimball County.

The Snyders proudly focus on the Dead Eye Shooters, and look forward to some big events for their club.

"We've got a great group of very talented kids who I just adore," Nicole said. "We are getting ready to go to state; we are finishing up Panhandle Best this week and the kids have done really well."

The group has about a dozen shooters going to Panhandle Best competitions routinely, and at least nine or 10 place at each event.

Following the state competition, the Snyders hope to place a team for the Daisy National BB Gun and Air Rifle Competition held over the July 4 weekend. The club will also participate in the Kimball County Fair in August.

"Shauntae Daily has been starting to go to some regional and state contests outside of 4-H and is having some success," Nicole said. "She has had a very successful year."

They began "Going For The Gold," their competition for beginning members within the club who set and achieve their goals.

"You are going to get a medal," Nicole said.

The Snyders list with pride their group of shooters and each of their accomplishments.

"Taylor Terrill, Jaren Winstrom and Bailey Brower, Chris Foster," Nicole started.

"Chris Foster, he is 9 years old and he is doing so well," Larry interjected. "Wow."

"Yeah, he is doing well. We've got a little girl coming down from the Scottsbluff valley, Annie G. Brayden Lukassen is another one," Nicole added. "We've got kids that are placing at Panhandle Best and they are doing well and they are the most important."

The Snyders have grown as well throughout their years as leaders.

"When we first started we didn't know what we were doing. We had no idea," Nicole said. "We were positioning kids wrong."

"Shoot the target kid," Larry joked. "But now we know. We have other clubs wanting us to come teach their kids."

The Snyders add that the skill level of the kids has improved as well, and where once the best in the state came from Beatrice, now the Panhandle Best is a great way to describe competitors from this area.

"For us, sharing what we know with the other teams is important. It raises the level of competition and it drives our kids to that higher level of competition as well," Nicole said. "I think it has been exciting and fun."

It is really about the team experience for the Snyders. Though shooting can be very individual, they really try to include everyone and encourage the team aspect.

"Sometimes on the line Shauntae's working with someone," Nicole said. "Madie would rather show kids how to shoot at practice."

In just more than a year Madie will move on to college, but the Snyder's do not plan on slowing down much and they will not be finished leading their beloved team.

"Kids need to have success. We just really want to help kids have success," Nicole said. "We wouldn't know what to do with ourselves if we weren't running a 100 miles an hour."

Tonia Copeland

Nicole Snyder, right, helps a member of the Dead Eyes 4-H Club shooters during a recent practice.


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