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4-H members going to bat for program following budget proposal

March 9, 2011

Local 4-H members recently visited the office of state Rep. Sam Smith (second from right) to tell him about the importance of the statewide program. On hand for the visit were (from left) Matt Snyder, Shane Johns, Kristin Harriger, Celeste Pearce, Smith and 4-H organizational leader Rusty Craft. (Photo submitted)

PUNXSUTAWNEY — Even before Gov. Tom Corrbett revealed his proposed $27.3 billion budget that threatens Penn State’s Cooperative Extension, four Jefferson County 4-H members traveled to the offices of local legislators to tell them how important the 4-H program is.

4-H members Shane Johns of the Fast N’ Furious 4-H Club; Matt Snyder from the Fast N’ Furious and Livestock Unlimited 4-H Clubs; Kristin Harriger from Livestock Unlimited; and Celeste Pearce from Fast N’ Furious 4-H Club visited the local offices of state Reps. Sam Smith, Matt Gabler and Dave Reed.

Speaking Wednesday, Penn State President Graham Spanier said if passed, Corbett’s budget would eliminate 10 percent of the university’s educational budget; 50 percent of the budget for Penn State Cooperative Extension services; and 50 percent of the budget for agricultural research, according to StateCollege.com.

4-H is part of the Jefferson County Cooperative Extension Office, which is part of Penn State Extension.

Corbett’s proposal includes cutting about $625 million, or more than 50 percent, from the state system of higher education’s 14 schools and Pitt, Temple, Lincoln and Penn State.

4-H members shared stories of their projects and reasons for taking part in the 4-H program. They also shared the importance 4-H has had in their lives, as they have developed lifelong skills from their 4-H projects, such as public speaking and presentations, parliamentary procedure skills and the skills needed to raise and nurture an animal project.

The members invited the representatives to a livestock judging and learning experience at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds July 20.

The 4-H’ers also plan to serve as a mentors to the representatives to demonstrate the judging of their 4-H projects, and then allow a representative to judge classes of the animals.

Rusty Craft, organizational leader of the Fast N’ Furious 4-H Club and Penn State Extension volunteer, escorted the 4-H’ers on their visits. He recently completed training to serve as an advocate for Penn State Extension.

In this role, he worked with the members and representatives to meet and discuss Penn State Extension’s 4-H program.

During the next few months, Craft will work with the four members to involve members from throughout the county. In July, additional members from all 15 4-H clubs in Jefferson County host the representatives at the fair.

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