Sullivan County 4-H Members Staff PA Farm Show Booth

Preparing for their shift at the Penn State Extension’s 4-H Friends booth at the PA Farm Show on Jan. 12 were advisers Ann Fitzgerald (left), Josh Fry (third from left), and Sandy Pardoe (right) and Sullivan County 4-H members Aiden Weisenberger, Morgan Broschart, Allen Spako, Charley Insinger, Olivia Spako, Maddy Broschart, Faith Fowler, Wyatt Fowler, and (not pictured) Makayla Bedford.

Story and photo by Rick Hiduk

(Originally published in the Sullivan County Review)

Nine 4-H members from Sullivan County traveled with their advisers to Harrisburg on Jan. 12 to see what the 108th Pennsylvania Farm Show had to offer and to make a contribution of their own, fulfilling a goal that they had made at their club meeting in October of 2023. Their booth adjacent to the Penn State Extension area served as Station #2 for the AgExplorer game. Thousands of children and their families took part in the contest, which required them to visit 17 stations spread throughout the massive Farm Show Complex if they wanted to vie for a free iPad.

At the 4-H station, participants played “Pin the Tail on the Animal.” Visitors were directed to one of three sets of placards that depicted the backsides of three farm animals. They were then given three animal tails with a velcro fastener and instructed to match the tails to the animals in front of them. When the task was completed – even with some help from the 4-H youths – their AgExplorer Passport was stamped, and they were given a 4-H tote bag.

While interacting with guests, our members were building their public speaking skills and promoting 4-H,” Sullivan County 4-H educator Sandy Pardoe related. “The opportunity gave our members a chance to meet people from across Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland.” The PA Farm Show is the largest of its kind in the nation and routinely draws people from adjacent states.

Other stations focused on various facets of Pennsylvania’s Ag industry such as beef, fiber, fruit production, mushrooms, bees and honey, and equine science. After visiting all 17 stations, the participants would turn in their completed passports at one of two tables where they were awarded a “squishy cow” and subsequently entered in the drawing for the iPad.

Despite of or perhaps because of its relatively low population, Sullivan County 4-H enjoys a very high percentage rate among school-age youths. According to Pardoe, approximately 140 elementary and high school students take part in the traditional 4-H program and another 50 participate in the chapter’s School Enrichment program.

There’s only 600 kids in our schools, so we touch a lot of kids in our district,” Pardoe stated.

Siblings Olivia and Allen Spako of Estella said that they’ve enjoyed the opportunity to show their sheep as 4-H members. Other regular livestock showers in the group included sisters Morgan and Maddy Broschart of Overton. Charley Insinger of Dushore said that her favorite part of 4-H is the opportunity to make memories.

Before starting their afternoon shift, the youths visited the Dairy Promotion Corner in the Northeast Hall where fellow 4-H member and Sullivan County Dairy Princess Makayla Bedford was wrapping up a shift of sharing information about dairy farming and products with Farm Show guests. The Dairy Promotion Corner was Station #7 on the AgExplorer route.

After their shift, the 4-Hrs, the youths visited the Farm Show’s famous Food Court to buy their dinner before venturing out through the sprawling Farm Show Complex. “They enjoyed visiting the educational booths like the pork and beef booths because that pertained to their 4-H projects,” Pardoe noted. The youths also enjoyed Farm Show Milkshakes.

While their own time to explore was limited, Pardoe noted that Allen and Aiden visited at least half of the other AgExplorer 16 stations. Sponsors of the AgExplorer activities included the Dairy Farmers of America, Friends of the PA Farm Show, and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.

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