GREENCASTLE, Pa. — As state funding continues to dry up, the Franklin County 4-H Clubs could be the latest victims of Pennsylvania’s financial crunch.
“We’ve received 50 percent less money from the state last year to this year, and we’re anticipating it to drop even more,” said Barbara Aldrich, 4-H youth development educator, Penn State Extension, Franklin County.
To offset the lack of funding, Aldrich held the county’s first 4-H Benefit Auction Friday at Hurley Auctions at 2800 Buchanan Trail East in Greencastle, Pa.
The silent auction began at 4 p.m., with the live auction starting at 6:30 p.m.
Individuals and businesses donated 250 items for the auction, including a propane fireplace, weekend getaway at a Caledonia cabin, Penn State football tickets, a Hitchcock wingback chair, a Lawn-Boy push lawnmower, Longaberger baskets and more.
“We’ve had a significant drop in state funding, and we’re holding the auction to try to recoup some of the money. Some of the other counties throughout the state have been successful with similar auctions,” Aldrich said.
“If it drops even more, we would have to increase our fee cost, which would really affect the individual 4-H members and families.”
She said 4-H members pay a $10 educational-materials fee, plus project fees that vary depending on the type of project selected.
In 2010, the Franklin County 4-H program reached more than 7,200 young people from ages 5 to 19, Aldrich said.
Donna Boyd, 4-H volunteer leader and auction chairwoman, said losing even one 4-H club to a budget crunch would be devastating.
“Funding has been cut way back. We’re doing this to raise money to help continue with the 4-H programs that we have. 4-H is a great organization, and there are a lot of varied clubs in the county,” Boyd said.
She said 4-H has something for everybody.
“4-H isn’t just cooking and cows. There are community clubs. There are, of course, farm clubs — horse clubs, goat clubs, dairy clubs, pig clubs — but there are many other clubs. There are science clubs, service clubs, and all different clubs dedicated to helping other people,” she said.
Sixteen-year-old Kayla Vickers is the president of the Shining Service 4-H Club.
“In our club we primarily do service projects for local businesses in the county. The stereotype of 4-H is kids showing cows, and I am not in any way related to farming,” Vickers said.
Her club has made tray favors for the Meals on Wheels food bags, donated to the animal shelter, stuffed envelopes for organizations, made care packages for pregnancy ministries, and planted flowers and cleaned up debris at state parks.
“Being in 4-H has benefited me in lots of ways. For one, I have many hours of public service, and I have developed leadership skills and organizational skills,” Vickers said. “That’s why we’re hoping to raise money so we’re still able to do our activities and our outings. So, it’s difficult but we’re trying to make do.”