Sullivan County 4-H Has Its Day at the Farm Show

4-H member Makayla Bedford (above, left) and 4-H adviser Sandy Pardoe represented Sullivan County at the 106th Pennsylvania Farm Show on Jan. 11.

Story and photo by Rick Hiduk

(originally published in the Sullivan County Review)

The importance of 4-H to Pennsylvania Farm Show organizers cannot be overstated. The four-leaf clover icon can be seen almost everywhere in the Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg. The youths who belong to hundreds of 4-H clubs across the Commonwealth are not only participants, but 4-H is also a sponsor of the Farm Show.

In a year when participation by vendors and other organizations was lower due to the ongoing pandemic, many 4-H and FFA exhibits that would normally have been assigned to a corridor often missed by guests were brought out into the open to fill the space.

The organization’s mission is to “give all young people access to opportunity.” That concept of inclusion was played out daily at this year’s Farm Show, held Jan. 7 to 15, as 4-H youths and advisers from every corner of the state took turns staffing the 4-H booth in the Main Hall near the popular butter sculpture.

Through an interactive activity called “Joining Hands in Unity,” 4-H’rs encouraged family members visiting the booth to first select a paper cut-out hand that most closely matched their own skin tone. The hand was then attached to a cut-out shirt sleeve, which the participants could decorate with colored markers before hanging it on strings as part of an evolving piece of art.

The goal is to get people to figure out where their skin tone fits in,” said Sullivan County 4-H Adviser Sandy Pardoe. “The first step in the conversation about diversity is to identify your place on that spectrum.”

I think it’s a great way for children to learn that you can be friends with people with different skin tones, despite what you may hear, and that you can trust them,” said Makayla Bedford, who – at 14 – has been a Sullivan County 4-H member for nine years. The ninth-grader resides in Hillsgrove.

Makayla and Pardoe staffed the booth for several hours on Jan. 11 along with Morgan Doyle, a Philadelphia-based 4-H educator. Hundreds of hanging hands surrounded them, so many that they wondered aloud how they were going to accommodate more of them as the week unfolded and more families took part in the project.

Makayla explained that she enjoys getting on the road to meet 4-H members from other counties and share stories and ideas. “It’s a great way to learn and teach younger members,” she stated. Makayla likes to bring new youths into the organization as well, adding, “It teaches you how to be a good member of your community and treat each other with respect.”

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