The Wallowa County 4-H program surpassed its old radio auction fund-raising record Saturday, bringing in bids of $15,374 for 427 donated items, plus another $201.50 in cash contributions.

The high-ticket item by far was the Zumwalt Preserve elk hunting trip, donated by The Nature Conservancy and purchased for a whopping $6,035 by John Gilliland, a Pennsylvania resident who heard about the trip and the auction from a local friend.

Marsha Svendsen, Wallowa County Extension Office secretary, said that even without the elk trip the bids and donations brought in $9,540, which broke the record of $9,360 set in 2000.

Svendsen said that the value of the donated items and services auctioned Saturday was estimated at $12,823, not counting the elk hunt, which no one was sure how to value. The money brought in by the auction, which always is 4-H's largest fund-raiser of the year, will go into the 4-H Leaders Association account for projects and expenses ranging from 4-H judging team registration fees and travel expenses to summer camp scholarships, national 4-H trips and leadership training.

Doris Noland of Enterprise plans to retire as radio auction chairman after 10 years in that role.

"It's a good note to end on," she said of the record proceeds. "We had a lot of support this year, a lot of new bidders."

Noland said every year, because of the poor economy here, she expects the 4-H auction to hit a slump, but said it just hasn't happened yet.

"It's almost tripled what we used to do," she said. The auction this year enlisted about 30 4-H volunteers and close to 300 bidders. Noland said her successor has not yet to been selected.

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