Wayne Co. recognizes 4-H volunteers at banquet


SMITHVILLE – After 10 years as a member of the Ruggles Rangers 4-H Club in Ashland County, Shirley Pittenger turned over a new cloverleaf and became a 4-H volunteer, racking up 25 years of service, first in Ashland County, and for the last 20 in Wayne County as an adviser with Valley College 4-H club.

Pittenger’s dedication to the 4-H program earned her the 2002 Meritorious Service Award during the Wayne County 4-H Volunteer Recognition Banquet at The Barn Restaurant in Smithville.

Projects and activities. As a 4-H member, Pittenger, along with her brother and four sisters, showed sheep. She also carried cooking, sewing and flower gardening projects. Her son, Mark, was also a 4-H member and carried rabbits, sheep and market hogs. As an adviser, she works with the miscellaneous projects and handles the organizational duties for the club.

She has developed an Outstanding Club Member award for the club, organizes an annual fun night and during the fair visits each barn and creates a poster featuring pictures of the members with their projects. Pittenger also organizes a cookie baking day for the members to bake and take home the results of their endeavor.

Pittenger credits Bob Smith, an adviser with the Ruggles Rangers 4-H club, with getting her involved as a volunteer.

“Immediately after I finished my 10 years in 4-H, Bob asked me if I wanted to get involved as an adviser,” Pittenger said.

Pittenger added that as an adviser, she gets a lot of satisfaction from seeing how 4-H develops the principles of its members.

“My dad always said that is it OK to start from the bottom and work your way up. He told us that we could do whatever we wanted to do if we worked hard enough,” she said.

More credit. Arden Shisler, chairman of the board of Nationwide Mutual Insurance, credits 4-H and Carl and Audrey Buchwalter, his advisers in the Dalton Big Four 4-H club, with helping him develop life skills such as public speaking, leadership and decision making.

Shisler, a member of the Ohio 4-H Centennial Committee, told the audience that 4-H had more effect on his life than anything other than his parents.

“I was in a great club and we had great advisers,” Shisler said. “They helped us develop as members and I got involved in county activities, which led to getting involved in state activities. 4-H gave me a chance to develop skills such as leadership and public speaking. These are life skills that I wouldn’t learn in the classroom.”

Shisler added that while 4-H has changed over the years, the basic premise has stayed the same: it still teaches skills such as leadership, public speaking and responsibility.

Shisler added that 4-H is the largest youth organization in the country, with over 45 million alumni. In fact, one out of every six people in Ohio has been touched in some way by the 4-H program, he said.

Breaking ground. The Ohio 4-H Foundation will be breaking ground for the Ohio 4-H Center on the Columbus campus of Ohio State University. Each county throughout the state is being encouraged to take part in the fund-raising campaign for the facility. Nationwide and the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation have teamed up to pledge a $4 million dollar challenge grant, matching $1 for every $2 raised by 4-H members.

Adviser recognition. During the banquet, advisers were recognized for their service to the 4-H program. Special recognition was given to advisers with 20 years of service including Karla Amass, Phil Shriver, and Laurie Stahl; advisers with 25 years of service, Dorothy Lackman and Janet Connelly; 30-year advisers Sharon Emler and Marian Wellert; and 35-year volunteer Elva Gordon.

Ken Bower, president of the Wayne County Agricultural Society, told the audience that everyone should be proud of the way the junior fair exhibitors presented themselves during the fair.

“September 11, 2001, is a fair day that no one will forget,” he said. “But it was touching to see the generosity and compassion these young people showed. Whatever and however you are getting across to these young people is working. The amount of money they donated to assist the disaster victims was unreal. Maybe we all need to take a lesson from these young people,” he said.

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