Monday, July 9, 2012

A 4-H Autobiography

Writing about my time in 4-H is like writing an autobiography. Every major milestone, each significant life choice--they can all be traced back to my experiences as a 4-Her. When I was 8-years old, my mom signed me up for my first 4-H club as a way to make friends in a new town. Well, Mom, mission accomplished. Eventually, I built enough confidence to hop on a bus destined for sleepaway camp. That week in the woods offered far more than just air rifles, swimming, and campfires. I gained a newfound sense of independence, community, and self-confidence. Never before had I felt so free to just be myself, a feeling that every kid deserves to experience. Camp sparked a passion that I have never been able to extinguish, nor would I want to. Needless to say, I was hooked. For the next 8 summers, I was at Camp Shehaqua without fail either as a camper or counselor. Along the way, my arch-nemesis (it was 4th grade, we were dramatic) joined my club and eventually, started going to camp. As the years went on, we both became counselors and were forced to work side-by-side. In helping to make sure camp ran smoothly, we realized that we had to move past our rivalry if we wanted camp to be a success. After leading countless songs and activities together, we eventually became friends, best friends. Ten years later, we’re still attached at the hip. In fact, we even went to the same university (We Are...Penn State!) A few years later, this very friend started working at another 4-H camp and invited me to apply. All of my experience with Pike County made me a shoe-in for the position. Once again, 4-H did not let me down. Not only did I meet some of the most incredible and truly inspiring individuals while working there, but also my boyfriend--my English boyfriend. Fast forward two years, I’m living in England and pursuing a Masters degree, all thanks to 4-H. 16 years after my first 4-H meeting, I can honestly say that this organization hasn’t changed my life, but modeled it. I’m proud to say that I am and forever will be a 4-Her. ~Jaclyn Bealer

Friday, June 1, 2012

Pike County 4-H through the 1930s

Pennsylvania 4-H began in 1912 with a corn growing club and contest in Mercer County. Fourteen boys and one girl were members of that first club. From those rural beginnings Pennsylvania 4-H has grown into one of the premier youth development programs in the state for youth between ages 5 and 19. For over 100 years, families and communities have turned to 4-H to ensure youth have opportunities to explore new interests; to connect with their community in a positive way and become leaders. 
4-H programs have evolved over the years, but the core principles and mission have not. The 4-H youth development movement wants to build a world in which youth and adults learn, grow and work together as catalysts for positive change. The mission is to assist youth in acquiring knowledge, developing life skills, and forming attitudes that will enable them to become self-directing, productive, and contributing members of society. 
What do historical records reveal about Pike County’s 4-H programs over the years? The records housed at the Pike Extension Office in Milford start off in 1937. However, upon closer inspection, records point out that many youth were club members for at least 5 years at that time. This indicates that Pike’s 4-H clubs began at least in 1931 when the doubling of unemployment went to 16.3% and everybody realized that the stock market crash of 1929 was having far reaching effects.
Female membership wins hands down in the 30’s. However, the Raymondskill Valley Lunch Box Club, led by Mrs. Ross Kleinstuber and Mrs. Marcelle VanLeirde, had a total of sixteen members, eight of which were boys. The clubs were divided between Foods & Health and Clothing/Garments. The ages of club members ranged from eight to nineteen. Without complete 1930’s records membership trends and numbers can only be estimated. 
If you have lived in Pike County for awhile or know some of its history, you will recognize the last names of leaders and members alike. Names like Quick, Myer, Vandermark, Gavoille, Wells, Helms, Briscoe, Hotalen, Bensley and Haupt. The clubs met in Blooming Grove, Greeley, Kimbles, Lackawaxen, Milford, Panther, Raymondskill Valley, Rowlands and Shohola.
Club members’ projects were judged at an annual roundup. Baking clubs presented breads, dropped cookies, a poster and their recipe file or their project book. In 1938 the canning club members each canned 10-14 quarts of fruits and vegetables. Clothing clubs had a variety of options, from darning a sock or sewing a button on, to making a slip, apron, dress, nightgown or a school outfit.
To end the 30’s new clubs started up in Bushkill and Matamoras, both working on the 4-H clothing project. Mrs. Harold Fisher’s Matamoras club started off with 16 girls. The Bushkill club, led by Mrs. William Heller, had 8 girls. In both clubs ages ranged from 9 to 16. Club names began to appear on the enrollment files like “The Bakerettes,” “The Busy Needles,” “The Girl at Home Club” and “The Merry Mixers.”
Contributed by Diane Boucher Appel

Friday, March 16, 2012

4-H Memories of 'Hanging Around Horses'

Hi All~
The 4-H club 'Hanging Around Horses' spanned 7 years, from 1989 through 1996. The club was open to children whether or not they owned a horse. My own 2 horses were the object of our members' affections and became super-duper socialized to children.

To expand our experiences, we rented trail horses, went to horse shows & exhibitions, and visited local stables. But our trip to Chincoteague Island to see the Pony Penning was our most ambitious trip. We spent the 3rd week of July 1996 at Chincoteague and Assateague Island, and when we got back, members of 'Hanging Around Horses' wrote about the experience. The following is a sampling of their writing:

This year my 4-H club took a trip to Virginia. We went to Chincoteague and Assateage Island. We spent the days before the round-up cooking out & swimming at the beach. On Pony Penning day, we got up at 5 AM to catch the shuttle bus that would take us to the place the ponies swim. When we got there it was about 5:30. Surprisingly we stood around for 4 tiring hours. But finally we got to see the ponies swim across the bay. It was so exciting. After all the ponies got on to land, two stallions started to fight. - Kate age 10


We went to Chincoteague to see the ponies swim from Assateague to Chincoteague. The swim was neat to watch. The next day was the auction. It was amazing how much money people would yell out. One person paid $6,500 for a colt. What also amazed me was that people would auction thousands of dollars for ponies that would stay on Assateague. - Jenny age 10


I remember reading 'Misty of Chincoteague. I always imagined what the island would look like and how wild ponies roamed the islands. I used to pretend that I lived with Grandma and Grandpa Beebe, just like Paul and Maureen, and that I had a bunch of wild ponies.

On Pony Penning day, we made our way to where the ponies would come ashore. There were so many people waiting for the ponies, there were even T.V. stations and newspaper reporters. This was a big event.

We waited a very long time for the ponies to begin the swim. The swim lasted about 5 minutes, and the ponies began to come ashore. I could see the animals perfectly, I was as close as one could get to them. The ponies all had a special beauty and way about them that made me want to cry. I don't know why but the sight of the ponies is emotional for many people.

Pony Penning is something I always wanted to experience. When the opportunity came up to go Pony Penning with 4-H, I was very excited. Thanks to my 4-H group 'Hanging Around Horses', I did. - Nicole age 15


This summer we went to Chincoteague, VA. Ever since I was little I have wanted to go to Chincoteague because of Margaret Henry's book. We went to lots of sights like the lighthouse and we went on a rented boat to see the bridge. I caught a crab with my fishing pole and the crab got in the boat and bit my mom's toe. Altogether, Chincoteaure was very fun! - Kristin age 12


For me, this trip was the icing on the cake. All the time spent meeting with the children is vividly memorable. This blog provided a nice moment of nostalgia and I look forward to reading of others' experiences. - Deborah Albrecht, 4-H Club Leader

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Share YOUR 4-H Story

As mentioned in the previous post, we are celebrating 100 years of 4-H in Pennsylvania this year. In addition to sending your 4-H story to Carol Schurman, we would like you to share your story on this blog if you participated in 4-H in Pike County, Pennsylvania.

To share your story, click on (number of) Comments at the end of this post. A new window will appear where you can add your story. When finished, click on Publish. The number of Comments will then increase by 1. Any visitor to the blog will be able to view all posted comments.

What to include in your story:

* Name (please include your maiden name)
* State you now reside in
* Years you were involved in 4-H
* Your connection to 4-H (club, leaders names, member, parent, leader, educator,
4-H family member, etc.)
* If an educator, what were your responsibilities?
* If you would like to share photos, please email digital photos to Jeanne Steuhl at as you will not be able to upload the photos yourself. Please include your name and identify anyone in the photos so that we can credit the photo to you.

Your story should be something memorable to you: the year you earned your way to the State Fashion Revue Show, fond memories of 4-H, of your club meetings, of traveling to Penn State, of your exhibits, why you joined 4-H, how 4-H changed your life, how 4-H made an impact on your future; etc.

The Pike County Commissioners issued a Proclamation in recognition of Pennsylvania 4-H Week. Pictured (left to right) Commissioner Karl Wagner, Penn State Extension Office Manager Jeanne Steuhl, Commissioner Matthew Osterberg, Penn State Extension Director Nancy Grotevant, and Commissioner Richard Caridi.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Rural Beginnings to Global Success - 100 Years of Pennsylvania 4-H

What’s Your 4-H Story?

The Pennsylvania 4-H program will be celebrating 100 years of youth programming in 2012. As part of the centennial celebration the planning committee is compiling a history of the PA 4-H program through stories. 4-H members, leaders, 4-H alumni, former 4-H leaders, current and former extension educators, and/or family members are invited to help tell the story of 100 years of the PA 4-H program! Let’s create a historical timeline through the stories of those that were impacted by the 4-H program.

4-H Stories will be on exhibit around the state throughout 2012. A compilation of the stories will be published and offered for sale.

What to include in your story:
Name (please include your maiden name)
Physical Address & Email Address
What county(s) you were involved in 4-H.
Years you were involved in 4-H
Your connection to 4-H (club, leaders names, member, parent, leader, educator, 4-H family member, etc.)
If an educator, what counties did you work with and what were your responsibilities?
Include copies of photos with names of people in the photo & details about the photo. Photos cannot be returned. Send copies or email photos to Carol Schurman Stories should not be longer than 2 pages, front and back.

Your story should be something memorable to you: the year you earned your way to the State Dairy Show, fond memories of 4-H, of your club meetings, of traveling to Penn State, of your exhibits, why you joined 4-H, how 4-H changed your life, how 4-H made an impact on your future; etc.

We would like stories from all generations to more accurately tell the story of 100 years of Pennsylvania 4-H.

The PA 4-H program has made a tremendous difference in the lives of millions. It’s certainly something to celebrate! Please help by sending your 4-H stories electronically to Carol Schurman,, Indiana County Extension by April 1, 2012. Phone: 724-465-3880

PA 4-H website