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St. Croix County youth's photo wins national attention

Jacob Schurtz, president of the Rustic Renegades 4-H Club and a Glenwood City junior, was one of five Wisconsin entries to be included in the national 4-H calendar. Photo courtesy of Carole Schurtz1 / 2
Jacob Schurtz’s close-up shot of a rose will be featured in the National 4-H Youth Art Calendar. Photo courtesy of Carole Schurtz2 / 2

GLENWOOD CITY — Hilltopper junior Jacob Schurtz really does not understand what all the fuss is about.

"I thought it was an OK picture," he said about a photo his mother entered in a national 4-H art contest. "But I can't figure out why everyone is making such a big deal about it."

The photo Schurtz is talking about is one his mother, Carole, submitted to the National 4-H Youth Art Calendar for consideration as one of the pieces of art to be included in the 2018 edition. The close-up shot of a rose garnered him a champion ribbon in macro photography at the 2017 St. Croix County Fair, and took the Grand Champion photography ribbon.

The rose in question was a sort of "orange-yellow" color from a bouquet his mother, received from his father, Eric, for Valentine's Day in 2017. In order to catch the light at just the right level to show off the petals to best effect, Schurtz had to stand on the dining room table and a chair to get a good angle.

His mother said it was something of a surprise to see her youngest (he has an older sister Catherine) standing on the table with a camera the day he took the photo.

"I am pretty sure I scolded him for standing on my table," she said. "That's just not something you expect your 17-year-old to be doing when you walk in the door after work."

"We don't have a macro lens, so I had to adjust the distance to make sure it was in focus,"

Jacob said by way of explanation for his unusual method.

The town of Forest resident said he felt like the angle and the light shining through the flower would make a good photograph, and he was in the mood to try something new after St. Croix County added new photography categories to the fair book last year.

It was actually Carole Schurtz who entered the photograph in the national 4-H contest in October. Schurtz said he was somewhat confused when he received a matted and framed copy of the photo as part of his Christmas present.

"I knew it was an ok picture but I couldn't figure out why my mom would mat and frame it for me for Christmas. She thinks all the stuff we do is good, so I was like 'ok that's nice she will hang it in the house,' how's that a gift for me."

He only learned the reason why when he read a letter accompanying the gift which explained how his mother had entered the photo through the national 4-H website and that it had been chosen for inclusion in the calendar.

Prior to receiving the gift, Schurtz was not aware the photo had been entered in the contest or why. Both of his parents were excited and had been keeping the announcement a secret since the beginning of December.

Schurtz's picture was chosen out of over 4,000 entries from across the country, and is one of approximately 20 pieces of artwork featured in the calendar. The photo also has the added distinction of being the only entry chosen from St. Croix County and one of five entries from Wisconsin to be featured in the calendar.

The Glenwood City student is now in his eighth year as part of the St. Croix County photography project, and is definite in why he likes the art form.

"I like taking pictures because no one tells you what you did wrong, just what you could maybe do different next time to get a different result," he explained. "I take pictures for me, not for everyone else."

"Jacob has always loved to take pictures. It's not uncommon to find him wandering around the yard, or while we are on vacation, with one of our cameras. He has a different perspective than most teenagers, and is willing to crawl on the ground, or stand on something he shouldn't to get just the angle and light he wants." his mother said. "And if it doesn't turn out the way he thought it's no big deal to him, he just tries again or moves on to another subject. Although I think he prefers to take pictures of animals and stills rather than people; people talk back," she said laughing.

This is Schurtz's 10th year in 4-H; he is the president of the Rustic Renegades 4-H Club in Glenwood City and has served as a St. Croix County 4-H Ambassador for the past five years, achieving gold status each year.

More information on joining 4-H can be found online at youth-development or by calling the St. Croix County Extension Office at 715-531- 1930.

All youth grades Kindergarten — through one year past high school are eligible to enroll and participate in 4-H.

St. Croix County Extension 4-H youth development staff member can answer your specific questions.