By Jane Smith
Sounds of tiny cow bells filled the air at the IOOF Hall at Atlantic recently.
The bells were being rung in response to a trivia game celebrating the 100th anniversary of the 4-H program — sponsored by the Cooperative Extension Service — throughout the state.
Paula Lucas, extension educator and 4-H and Youth Development staff person at the Crawford County office, led the game following the official business of the service. Keynote speaker for the evening, Lucas reviewed the history of 4-H in the country, the state and in Crawford County. Started in the United States in 1902, the program came to Pennsylvania in 1912 and to Crawford County in 1947.
The first 4-H project in the nation was in Iowa in a corn-growing program, with 14 boys and one girl taking part. The girl won the contest that year. The first club in Crawford County was in Blooming Valley. Last year, 18 classes and groups were involved in a 4-H curriculum, and 588 youths attended a school enrichment program. The county has 48 4-H clubs, 173 4-H volunteer leaders and 475 traditional club members.
Heather Perry, who was hired in the spring as 4-H program assistant, joined Lucas for the program. Her first duty was to plan a celebration for the program’s centennial. That occurred in September at the Wheelock farm in Townville where 70 people gathered to celebrate the occasion. Traditional games of tug-of-war, hay bale throwing, sack races and others were featured.
Families with multi-generational membership in 4-H were recognized at the celebration. They included: two generations: Gevin family, Kibbee family, Deeter family, McMaster family, Ford family, Gillette family, Mesarch family and Geiger family; three generations: Caldwell/Perry family, Sherred family, Manross family, Horne family, Hyde family, McClellan family, Crom family, Stainbrook family and Tau family; and, four generations: the Mumford, Kunz and Carr families.
After the formal program, Lucas had each table compete in the trivia game. Each table had a small bell to ring when members knew an answer. It wasn’t long before everyone was in the spirit of the game and bells were ringing constantly. Many of the more than 50 people were either former 4-H members, leaders or involved in the extension program and well acquainted with the 4-H program.
John Anderson, president of the board, welcomed guests and turned the evening over to Dave Dowler, the extension service’s District 1 director.
Dowler introduced special political guests: Crawford County commissioners Francis Weiderspahn, a Republican, and Sherman Allen, a Democrat, noting there would be no extension program without the county’s support; and Brian Williams, representing Republican state Rep. Brad Roae; Diane Helbig, representing Republican state Rep. Michele Brooks; and Pam Green, representing Republican state Sen. Bob Robbins. All three legislators were in Harrisburg. In addition, former commissioner Jack Preston was recognized, as were staff members and board members of the extension office.
The legislators or their representatives spoke briefly after reading portions of citations presented previously to the 4-H in recognition of its centennial. Also addressing the group, Williams noted Roae’s daughter is involved in 4-H and that her dad is supportive of the program. Helbig expressed appreciation to all those involved and the leaders. Noting she has three nieces involved in 4-H, she said she knows how important the program is and the contributions it makes to society. Green thanked all the leaders for the time and effort they put into the program. She noted the 4-H members will make lifetime friends through 4-H.
As outgoing president, Anderson was presented with a gift for his service. Other outgoing members are Roy Brant and Marsha Walker. Elected to succeed them were Brooks Rynd, Dennis Gregory and Brian Myers.