New Castle News

October 23, 2012

County 4-H still molding youths after 100 years

Debbie Wachter
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Lawrence County’s 4-H turned 100 this year and Marjorie Miller has seen most of those years.

She has been around 4-H for 72 years as generations have gone through the youth development organization but her enthusiasm for it has never waned.

The 84-year-old retired a few years ago, but not before being honored for 50 years as a leader.

Miller was one of about 160 guests at 4-H’s 100th birthday party last week. A banquet at the Lawrence County Career and Technical Center recognized dozens of local 4-H leaders and members.



NOVELTY CLUBS

One-time 4-H’ers who are now adults may remember hopping around on pogo sticks in one of the clubs or traveling overseas as a 4-H international exchange student. Both were clubs that Miller started.

She also was instrumental in forming the 4-H bowling club, believed to be the first of its kind in the state.

Her calling was to show all the young people in the county that 4-H is not just for farmers — it’s for anyone.

Nationally, 4-H serves more than 6.5 million youths.

Head, heart, health and hands — those are the 4 Hs that represent the cloverleaf that has become its national symbol.

Lawrence County has 30 4-H clubs with 475 members. In addition, 3,000 youths have become 4-H members indirectly as part of 4-H classroom instruction, explained Bryan Dickinson, Penn State Cooperative Extension’s 4-H agent for the county.

Dickinson works with teachers and students who are enrolled in 4-H classes such as embryology, rocketry, plant science and team building.

“Kids enrolled in those classes are automatically 4-H’ers,” he said.

There also are cooking and sewing and other recreational clubs that non-farm youths can join.



EARLY START

Miller’s involvement with the organization started when she was a child.

“My whole family was in 4-H,” she said.

She was in the sewing and cooking clubs, primarily, but her family also raised pigs and chickens.

When she grew too old to be a 4-H’er, she became a leader. She has a daughter, Julie, who also became active in 4-H.

“Every child can’t have a horse or a cow,” Miller explained. So she looked for clubs to lead that would help other children gain a well-rounded experience.

Her 4-H bowling club is now more than 40 years old. She was its leader for 35 years. She also was a leader for the roller-skating club.

The time Miller gave reaped the reward of seeing many young people develop responsibility, respect and dedication, she said, reflecting, “It’s been a good family organization.”



A MENTOR

“She’s like my second mother,” David Wilson of Princeton said, putting an arm around Miller. She was his 4-H leader, now his five children are in the organization.

Wilson, 48, was an international 4-H youth exchange student and went to Switzerland in 1984.

Miller’s daughter, Julie, went to Japan through the program her mother had initiated.

Members of different clubs 4-H become better acquainted with each other through the Lawrence County Fair, where many exhibit livestock, baking, canning, food or crafts.

Wilson’s face also is familiar at the fair because he delivers ice to vendors and helps out with the goat club.

Chelsey Kelly, 22, of Chewton, is one of the younger leaders who chose to stay involved in the organization after she outgrew membership at 19.

Her mother was in 4-H and “I got involved with it as soon as I could when I turned 8,” she said.

Kelly shows steers and horses and now is a leader of those clubs. Her family has quarterhorses and paint horses, in addition to 130 head of Limousin beef cattle.

Her sisters, Jocelyn, 19, and Jessica, 11, also are in 4-H, and Jocelyn showed the grand champion steer at this year’s Lawrence County Fair.

Kelly said she finds 4-H valuable because “it’s a really good way for kids to learn about animals and leadership. There’s pretty much something for everybody.”

(Email: dwachter@ncnewsonline.com)