Susquehanna County Girls Celebrate at Farm Show

Jillian Gustin (above, left) and Molly Burke show their market sheep, Walter and Clover, on the stage of the Small Arena in the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg. On Tuesday, they were sold during a Youth Livestock Auction.

Story and photo by Rick Hiduk

(Originally published in the Rocket-Courier)

Two Susquehanna County girls whose families have been friends since they were born shared a stall at the Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg for the lambs they took to the 107th Pennsylvania Farm Show this past week. Molly Burke and Jillian Gustin are members DES 4-H Club members who participated in Saturday’s Junior Market Lamb Competition, showing Clover and Walter, respectively.

The young ladies are the daughters of Ed and Rebekah Burke of Auburn Center and Bob and Kelly Gustin of Springville. Molly is an eighth grader at Seton Catholic Central High School in Binghamton, NY, and Jillian is a junior at Elk Lake High School. They raise and show sheep that are bred by Sue Graham of Lawton. The girls met through their fathers, both of whom attended Elk Lake High School with Sue’s husband, Rob.

Both girls showed steers for several years before switching to lambs. Besides being smaller and therefore easier to handle, Molly said, “I just love how fuzzy they are.”

Both girls live on farms, so involvement in 4-H came naturally to them, Jillian’s siblings leading the way for her. Walter and Clover are both in the crossbred category of young ovines. Participants can only take one sheep each to the Farm Show, though they can show two at the Harford Fair, which they do. At the Farm Show, both landed in the top five in their respective weight classes, so they were eligible for Youth Livestock Show held on Jan 10.

Their departure to a truck that will transport the lambs to a processor after they are sold is swift. Though tears are often shed as the animals they raised and with which they’ve bonded for a year, they have learned to accept it as a part of farming. “In the end, I know they’re going to have to go, one way or another,” said Molly.

The girls agreed that 4-H has given them skills that have helped them with school and will continue to be used throughout their lives.

4-H has helped me develop relationships with people and develop a good work ethic,” Jillian offered. She wishes that Elk Lake would institute agriculture as a course of study.

4-H gives me a different perspective,” Molly remarked, adding that it has also enhanced her leadership skills. She plays varsity basketball at Seton Catholic. There are no ag-related courses at her school either.

Jillian plans to pursue a career in education when she completes high school. “I want to be a teacher, but I also want to have a hobby farm with animals for my kids to show,” she stated.

Molly is considering applying to Texas A&M or Cornell universities to become a veterinarian.


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