Rock City Rangers 4-H Club
One of the newest
groups to join the ranks of organized youth racing Homing Pigeon
projects is the Rock City Rangers 4-H Club.
The group is assisted and mentored by the North East
Dallas Homing Dallas Homing Pigeon Club.
It was over a year
ago that Angela Gutilla requested the School Information Packet
from the AU. She
was gathering helpful teaching materials for her father to
utilize for sharing his sport with his grandson’s youth group.
spokesperson Patty Montagno, shared how they have progressed:
John Fontana and grandson 11 year-old, Johnny Gutilla live only
minutes apart and have done thousands of fun things together.
Now the closeness that has marked their relationship has
gotten visibly stronger with the presence of a brand new pigeon
loft in little Johnny’s back yard.
Johnny is now
sharing his grandfather’s love for the sport of pigeon flying
and it all started with a 4-H club project.
his10 year-old friend, Addison Gomez, were attending a regular
meeting of their 4-H club. Both boys are active participants in
all 4-H club programs.
meeting their County Extension Agent, taught the group how to
put together a method demonstration.
The boys chose pigeons as their project.
“ Addison and I decided that it would be fun to give a
speech together about what we had learned from our pigeon
project,” Johnny said.
“ We called our Method
Demonstration, ‘Racing Homing Pigeons’ and talked about the
history, breeding, banding, training and racing of homing
made posters, gathered information and props and borrowed a
banding machine from the North East Dallas Homing Pigeon Club.
practiced and practiced and practiced,” Johnny said.
Their first Method Demonstration
presentation was at the Rockwall County Fall Round Up.
really nervous but the judges said it was really wonderful and
we got a blue ribbon, FIRST place,” he said.
practiced some more and then entered our presentation into the
District 4 Fall Round Up competition.”
the night before the District competition, Addison broke his
collarbone; but was able to accompany his best friend.
both really nervous but we ended up getting FIRST place,” he
“We felt really good”
Both boys said the really enjoy giving their presentation
and in doing so have learned about friendship, hard work and not
giving up when something bad happens. “Because, if you do,”
they said. “You
can never reach your goals.”
After giving their presentation at a North Texas
Concourse, the boys were asked to make a video. The idea was to
make the video so other organizations and individuals could
learn or benefit form the boy’s experiences.
It would be used as a marketing and sport promotion tool.
with Addison, his dad, Robert, our County Extension Agent, Todd
Williams, our moms and our project leader my grandfather, John
we worked very hard to make the video,” Johnny said.
So far the
boys have distributed the video to the officers of the North
Texas Concourse, the American Racing Pigeon Union, the North
East Dallas Homing Pigeon Club and the Dallas and Texas Center
hoping for donations to cover some project expenses,” Johnny
“ I think
that would be really wonderful. Hard work really does pay off.
Addison said so far the most challenging part of their project
were the long hours spent with their families while building
their lofts and, of course, waking up at 5 a.m. to train their
been such a blessing to see my dad passing his love and
knowledge of racing homing pigeons onto one of his
grandchildren,” Johnny’s mom, Angela said. “ Johnny is his
namesake and I think that makes it that much more special.
Johnny and my dad spend so much quality time together while they
are working with the birds and it is wonderful to see the growth
in their relationship.
named his loft “Rocket” and Johnny's loft is called the Red
Baron Loft (named
after Snoopy). He
wants to paint a picture of Snoopy riding a pigeon on the side
of his loft.
the boys have already been scheduled to give their presentations
at numerous groups throughout the Metroplex including 4-H Clubs,
Boy Scout troops, the
Alert Cadets, the H.E.A.R. Home school Group and several other
home school groups, several local elementary schools
and the Rockwall County and District Fall 4-H Round Up
young people don’t learn about pigeon racing, the sport wouldn’t
exist anymore,” Addison said.
it so much that we feel it’s our responsibility to tell other
kids about racing homing pigeons.”
will be racing this season and will be going to the clubhouse
every Friday night going to counter mark the birds.
be hard, but fun and we hope to win. If my name was on the sheet
in the top ten, I would freak out,” Johnny said.
smiling Addison added, “I’m really excited. Ditto to
In order to raise some money to defray the costs, the
boys will be selling candles
with their 4-H Club in the fall.
“ We get
to keep a small portion of the profit for our projects,”
“ It is
the only fund-raising our club does because we are busy with
school work during the school year.”
for this year include learning more about the birds, their
health and loft maintenance and breeding.
“ We want to train our birds to trap because last year we did not
do this and on race day they wouldn’t go onto the landing
board very well.”
to get other pigeon flyers involved in teaching kids about
racing homing pigeons.”
said they have learned responsibility discipline patience,
gentleness and good sportsmanship.
“It is a
big responsibility to take care of the birds and if we don’t
they will get sick,” Johnny said.
to take care of the birds first before our school work, playing,
chores, going places and friends.”
learned patience while waiting on the birds on race day because
we have to wait for them to come in the loft and can’t get
frustrated when they land in the field or on the roof. It can
take a long time,” Addison said.
learned gentleness while holding and caring for the birds and we
know that you can’t always win. We encourage the winners.”
The boys said that if anyone wanted to help them support
their project there would be happy to provide a monthly or
yearly update and status report.
parents, Robert and Sandy, have seven children. Johnny’s
parents, Charles and Angela have five. Both families live in
Royse City, TX.
Fontana is a long-time, successful and well-respected pigeon
flyer. Now he
stands back and fondly watches his grandson care for his birds,
just as he did as a child.
proud of these youngsters, I can’t even begin to tell you what
this means to me,” John said. “So many people say our sport
is dying; but every time I look at these kids – I see a real
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