MERCER COUNTY —
They are the 1 percent.
They’re the future farmers of America, raising goats, hogs, cattle and chickens and keeping rural traditions alive.
Their interest in agriculture helps feed the masses, as fewer than 2 percent of the U.S. population provides food for the rest of the country, said Maggie Mase, Mercer County Cooperative Extension Youth Development and 4-H Educator.
“Agriculture … that’s what America was built on and it’s slowly fading away,” said 18-year-old 4-H member Kacy Scott.
There are fewer and fewer small farms as corporations take over and more people don’t connect the milk they buy at the store to a cow on a farm somewhere, Scott said.
To raise awareness and just have some fun, Mercer County 4-H kids show off their projects and knowledge at the annual 4-H roundup, which marks the club’s 100th anniversary this year.
The roundup continues through Friday for the public, with exhibits and animal shows, judging and sales at the 4-H park on North Perry Highway in Coolspring Township, next to the Extension office.
This year’s theme is “Rural Beginnings - Global Success” and a special exhibit marks the agricultural history of Mercer County, where farming is still big business.
Scott is part of the sixth generation of her family to live on their farm in Pulaski and has been in 4-H for 11 years.
“Agriculture has always been a part of my life,” Scott said, noting that her parents Ken and Connie suggested she try 4-H as a girl and “I fell in love with it.”
This is the last year she can participate as a member and the recent West Middlesex High graduate said she plans to become a leader.
“It’s never going to go out of my blood,” she said.
Youth get a “plethora of skills” from 4-H, including showmanship, sportsmanship and leadership. For her, public speaking experience was a “great thing,” Scott said.
Mase said the children learn a lot of responsibility in raising their livestock, as well.
She said they have to keep logs and fill out reports about the animals and keep track of how much raising them costs.
About 500 youth are part of the program and Mase estimates thousands of Mercer Countians – herself included – have benefited from 4-H’s lessons over the last century.
Scott has traveled the region showing animals and gained confidence from the experience.
The Scotts have registered breeding sheep and goats and raise grain and hay, Scott said.
“I don’t have time for a job because that is my job,” said Scott, who is enrolled in Sharon Regional Health System’s school of radiography for the fall.
Scott said some kids, particularly the ones who raise an animal more as a pet project and don’t grow up on a farm, have a rough time parting with their livestock which can be sold for meat.
“My mom always said ‘You feed them, one day they’ll feed you,’ ” Scott said. “To some people, that sounds harsh, but that’s the reality of it.”
4-H’ers celebrate centennial
MERCER COUNTY —
They are the 1 percent.
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