Wyoming County 4-H leaders who were honored for reaching milestones with the organization included (top, from left) Janet Shaw, Jean Stang, Maria Eastman, Debbie Petrewski, Amanda Ruark, and Bill Shaw. Additional honorees (not pictured) included Valerie Trowbridge, Jennifer Seward, Bradley Seward, Amy Cannella, Ginger Howell, and Justine Tone. Participants in the current 4-H County Exchange Program included (seated, above, from left) Susanna Hricko, Aleece Greenley, Cassie Trivett, Erin Burke, Julia Hricko, (standing) Blake Jayne, Camden Ruark, and Benjamin Hricko.
The Penn State Extension of Wyoming County held its annual meeting at the American Legion in Black Walnut on Nov. 2. The event was the largest in-person gathering of associates since 2019 and featured special presentations and awards for 4-H members and long-time leaders. Participants also included Extension employees and members of the Extension’s Wyoming County Advisory Council.
Council president Kathy Boehmer (above) welcomed the crowd, 4-H member Erin Burke lead the pledge of allegiance and 4-H pledge, and Victor Cappucci offered the invocation before dinner. Penn State Extension Area 3 client relations manager Mark Madden introduced staff and council members, and Wyoming County 4-H educator Tim Jayne brought the 4-H members to the floor. Eight youths are currently part of an exchange program partnered with an equal number of 4-H members from La Plata County, Colorado. The local youths, many of them Elk Lake school students, took turns detailing their first year in the exchange program, which involved fundraising, community service, and hosting a visit from their Colorado counterparts in August.
While they were in Pennsylvania, the group of 16 went on a coal mine tour at McDade Park in Scranton, visited the Trolley Museum and Aquarium there, took in a movie together at the Dietrich Theater in Tunkhannock, traveled to historic Gettysburg, and spent a day at Hershey Park. Next summer, the local contingent will travel to Colorado, for which they will need to conduct numerous fundraisers to cover the costs of the trip.
Weston Decker and Colby Ruark were honored, respectively, as the senior and junior Outstanding 4-Hers of the Year. Weston (above, left), a seven-year member of 4-H, said that raising and showing beef cattle, sheep, chickens and turkeys has taught him valuable life skills. Colby (right) credited several mentors for helping guide his projects with market hogs and steers. Both young men have won numerous awards with their animals at the Wyoming County Fair.
Jayne then recognized a backlog of 4-H leaders who had reached milestones with the organization over the past four years. Topping the list were Ginger Howell, who eclipsed 45 years in 2021; Jean Stang, who had been with the organization for 35 years as of 2018; and Debbie Petrewski (25 years), Janet Shaw (20) and Valerie Trowbridge (20), all in 2019.
Wyoming County Master Gardener coordinator Melissa Wright (below) told of impressive interest in the program over the past few years, including seven new Master Gardeners certified last year and 13 currently in training. The group revitalized their Certified Pennsylvania Pollinator-Friendly Garden at the Wyoming County Fairgrounds in 2022 and plans to conduct Seed to Supper events next year in Tunkhannock, Noxen, and Factoryville. They are currently conducting a Holiday Amaryllis Kit fundraiser through Dec. 1.
Area 3 Master Watershed Steward coordinator Jeremy Leaidicker related that the Watershed Steward program has also grown dramatically in recent years, with an increasing number of people interested in wetlands, stream ecology and stormwater management. He spoke as well of a partnership between the Extension and the Keystone Tree Program, noting that 10-million trees have been made available to Pennsylvania landowners at no cost. Watershed Steward volunteers will even do the planting, having planted 500 trees in Susquehanna County alone last year.
Elected officials in attendance included Wyoming County Commissioner Ernie King and Rep. Tina Pickett, whose legislative district has been changed to include all of Wyoming County as of Dec. 1. Both congratulated the 4-H youths on their achievements and thanked their leaders, former 4-Her Pickett saying, “My leaders were so inspiring to me. It was a wonderful time in my life.”
King, who also serves on the Advisory Council, said that he’d always wanted to be a farmer but never had the opportunity. That’s why, as commissioner, he has pursued avenues through the state’s association of county commissioners (CCAP) and the national organization (NACO) to participate in ag-related committees. “I want you to know that we are very concerned about farming in Pennsylvania,” King stated.
Pickett remarked afterwards that 4-H provides youths with opportunities to hone organizational and public speaking skills that will benefit them for the rest of their lives. She also told the youths that they are fortunate to have so many more projects to choose from than when she was in 4-H.
To learn more about resources offered by the Penn State Extension of Wyoming County and how to get involved in 4-H, interested readers can follow the organization on Facebook, log on to extension.psu.edu/wyoming-county, or call 570-836-3196.
Penn State Extension staff members, Wyoming County Advisory Council members, and elected officials who attended the Nov. 2 annual meeting included (from left) Mark Madden, Becky Smith, Jeremy Leaidicker, commissioner Ernie King, Jean Stang, Kathy Boehmer, Rep. Tina Pickett, Rick Hiduk, Butch Sands, and Tim Jayne.