4-H Centennial Families honored in Indiana County
Some families have cherished heirlooms — quilts, jewelry or photographs — that get passed down through the decades. For several Indiana County families the legacy that successive generations have shared has been participation in 4-H.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of 4-H in Pennsylvania. As part of a state-wide celebration, families that have had at least three generations involved in the youth development program are being recognized.
According to Carol Schurman, Indiana County 4-H educator with the Penn State Extension office, 10 of the county's 4-H clans are being honored as Centennial Families this year. Some of the families were acknowledged in late summer at the Indiana County Fair. Others will have a turn in the spotlight at the annual county 4-H Achievement Night, slated Sunday at the Penn Run Outreach Center. The event also will serve as a 100th birthday party for Pennsylvania's 4-H programs with decorations and a cake planned.
Participation in the Centennial Families program was optional at the county level. In Indiana County, Schurman said, “It's a logical fit. It's just part of the whole celebration this year.”
Among those recognized at Achievement Night will be the extended Glass-Long family, which includes four generations of 4-H participants.
Wendy Glass Long of Blairsville became a member of 4-H when she was 8 years old. In addition to helping with her 4-H projects, her parents, Frank and Susan Glass, became leaders of the local Gordon 4-H Club while she was involved.
The Glasses now support their granddaughters' 4-H efforts, providing space on their rural Blairsville property for the youngsters to raise animals for livestock projects.
Long's husband, Justin, also was involved with 4-H while growing up in Westmoreland County. Mirrorring his wife's experience, his parents, Bill and Judy Long, were leaders in the New Alexandria 4-H Club. It was a tradition established by his paternal grandparents — Bill Long Sr. was a leader and judge for 4-H horse shows around the state, and Pat Long worked for the Westmoreland County Penn State Extension office in home economics for many years.
Though 4-H has been a major part of both of their lives, Wendy and Justin Long didn't meet through the organization.
“It's funny that when we all came together and met, that there was this background in each of our families,” Wendy Long said.
The couple now has passed along the 4-H torch to their daughters. Olivia, Ivy, Amber and Kaycee Long all are active in the Gordon 4-H Club. The girls are completing sewing and wildlife projects and have begun work on their beef projects for next year.
Amid the responsibilities of jobs, school and other activities, 4-H provides the family a way to spend time together. Wendy Long said her daughters look forward to club meetings, being with their friends and their families. “They're learning something, and they enjoy it,” she said. “They make lots of friends. We can go anywhere in the state and meet somebody and get to know them.”
Though Long has many fond memories of her own days as a 4-H youth, she said she derives even more enjoyment guiding her daughters through work on their projects. “It teaches the kids good values and ethics and hard work,” she said. “I learned how to do everything, from cooking to livestock to vegetables to sewing — any skill that I have I learned from my parents and through 4-H. I wanted to instill that in my kids, the same kind of values.”
That includes displaying good sportsmanship in competitive events, “whether they win or lose,” she added.
Cheryl Hoy Brooks of Clymer, part of a three-generation 4-H family that is being honored, said she similarly encouraged her daughter, Haley, to join the organization because of the benefits members enjoy: “They learn all kinds of things. And you make lifetime friends in 4-H.”
The Shawnee Riders horse club provided Brooks entry into the 4-H program, following the example set by her three older siblings — LuAnn Rogerson, who joined first in 1971, Debbie Rorabaugh and their brother, Rusty Hoy. Their mother, Joyce Hoy, soon became a leader with the club.
“It was just a way of life for me,” Brooks said, noting the siblings mostly rode and showed Morgan horses. “By the time I came around, this is what my family did. My mom claimed the horses kept us busy and kept us off the street. Instead of going to a keg party as teenagers, we went to the barn. We were always busy feeding and caring for the horses or going to a horse show. It kept us very active.
“Through the course of it, we brought in outside kids, too, friends who came to the barn and learned to ride with us.”
Rogerson and Rusty Hoy won state championships showing their horses in 4-H. The third generation of the family has enjoyed even more success: Brooks has coached two of her nieces, Kim and Kayla Rorabaugh, to state titles, and Amanda Rogerson also holds a state title.
Haley Brooks just began entering 4-H events this year. She qualified for a trip to the state competition, but her horse fell ill before the event.
The Shawnee Riders club is part of the story of yet another 4-H Centennial family, the clan of Julie Stewart Moretti of Home. Moretti notes her family's participation in 4-H began with her father, the late James Paul Stewart. He grew up showing pigs as a member of the Northern Dairy 4-H Club and eventually operated his own dairy farm in Marion Center. Each of his children — Karen Stewart Beatty, Cindy Marshall, Neil Stewart, Vicky Campbell and Moretti — also joined 4-H.
“It was such a part of our life,” Moretti said. While all of the siblings began entering cattle in 4-H events, Moretti and Campbell soon switched to showing horses and helped establish the Mahoning Riders 4-H club.
“Dad was a horse lover, too, so we got away with that,” Moretti said.
By the time Moretti was ready to take on the role of an adult 4-H leader, the Mahoning club had shifted its base to a different part of the county. “It's interesting to me how Mahoning Riders ended up in Strongstown,” she said. “It migrated to where the kids were.”
So, when her daughter, Angela, began showing horses, Moretti became a leader with Shawnee Riders. Her son, Dominick, followed his grandfather's example, showing pigs for a few years through the Northern Livestock Club. Marshall has grandchildren who also are showing pigs.
“It's something that gets in your family,” Moretti said of the 4-H program. “The values were what I was interested in, getting the kids in touch with other kids from all over. My daughter has friends all over the state. They're all getting ready to go to college and they're still in touch with one another.”
The Bishop family, recognized at the Indiana County Fair, can document four generations of 4-H participants.
Richard Bishop of Penn Run notes he and his wife, Kimberly, didn't have to coax their children to get involved in the program. “Once you get them into it, you don't have to push,” he said. “They enjoy it.”
Bishop's father, Robert C. Bishop Jr. of Indiana, was not a 4-H member himself, but he grew up on a farm and was a leader in the Southern Livestock Club in Indiana County.
Richard Bishop and his five siblings — Robert III of Dayton, Don of Altoona, Sandy Fairman of Marion Center, Kathy Beatty of Indiana and Tim of Creekside — grew up in Homer City and all eventually joined the club.
Four of those siblings have 10 children among them — all of whom became involved in 4-H. The family's 4-H contingent also includes Richard Bishop's grandchildren, Ariel Bishop, 10, and sibling Toby, 9, of Aultman.
“And we're not quite finished,” Richard Bishop pointed out. There are more fourth-generation 4-Hers in the clan, including Tim Barrett, 6, of Marion Center, who will be joining once they reach the minimum age of 8, and four more are on the way.
All members of the Bishop family have focused on livestock — beef, swine and lambs — and have shown animals at county, regional and state 4-H shows.
Richard Bishop looks back fondly on his time with 4-H. A favorite memory is of his trip to a farm show in Chicago. It was his first time on an airplane — a big deal for a rural teen. Along with fun opportunities, he accepted the work involved in taking care of his animals.
Richard and Kimberly Bishop are now leaders of the Southern Livestock Club. “It's enjoyable to work with the kids, watch them grow through the years,” he said, noting that the club has about 20 current members. “It's a small club, but it's well worth it.”
There is also the satisfaction of watching the success of the current crop of Bishops. Ariel Bishop, 10, entered champion lambs at this year's county fair. “That was more enjoyable than anything I ever did, watching her win,” said her grandfather, Richard Bishop.
“It's amazing these families, the amount of years they've documented,” Schurman said of the Centennial clans. “It's been fun to see what all these families have done.” She noted the Bishops have proof of 157 years of involvement in 4-H, with 67 years as club leaders.
Other local Centennial Families include the families of Mary Balko Miller of Northern Cambria, Connie Carney Bruner of Blairsville and Marjorie Bezilla and Julie Anne McMillen Spencer, both of Indiana.
Though 4-H has remained a constant in the lives of these families, the program's projects have evolved with the interests of today's youth, offering many options beyond raising livestock.
“There are still a lot of the same families,” Wendy Long said of 4-H membership. “And the same values — think with your head and do with your hands, feel with your heart and take care of yourself.”
Gina DelFavero is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-459-6100, ext. 2915 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
but the organization continues to combat the perception that it is only for those interested in livestock.
“4-H still has the stigma of being a farmer thing,” Moretti said. “Farming is on a decline, and there are more town kids in it now than farmer kids. There's so much more to 4-H than farm animals.
It has really branched out into some really neat programs.” She listed rocketry, foods, dogs and cats among popular topics of today's 4-H projects.
Providing continuity to the organization are families like the Centennial Families, whose members have continued to find enrichment in 4-H activities through the years