HARRISBURG — Abigail Zyhowski, of Indiana, this week won more than a dozen ribbons, including four first-place honors, for her varied entries of baked goods, canned food, preserves, dried fruits and pottery at the 2014 Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg.
But she’ll return home from the show with something much more valuable.
Zyhowski, an Indiana Area High School 2013 graduate and now a student at St. Francis University, was one of 25 students, and the only one from Indiana County, who received a $3,500 scholarship from the Pennsylvania Farm Show Scholarship Foundation.
“The Pennsylvania Farm Show consists of new and old traditions, (and) the tradition of presenting the Farm Show Scholarships to the new generations of agriculture paints the perfect picture of some of Pennsylvania’s best,” said Agriculture Secretary George Greig. “The scholarships are only possible due to the dedication and support of the scholarship foundation, its members, contributors and livestock buyers.”
The foundation has awarded scholarships to 419 junior Farm Show exhibitors since the program began in 1993. In addition, Delaware Valley College provides matching grants to its recipients, and Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences offers $2,000 to its full-time students.
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Ten Indiana County high school seniors were among 351 Pennsylvania FFA members recognized Monday for their dedication to agriculture during the youth organization’s annual convention at the 98th Pennsylvania Farm Show.
The students received the Keystone Degree, the highest honor earned at the state level.
“We inherit the world our elders created and our own children will inherit the world we make,” Gov. Tom Corbett told the 6,000 FFA members gathered at this year’s convention. “Leadership isn’t about how highly we regard ourselves. It’s about creating a world worthy of our children.”
The FFA provides students with leadership development opportunities through classroom instruction, career development contests — including livestock evaluation and parliamentary procedure — and real world agricultural career placement.
To receive the degree, students must receive the Chapter Degree in their own FFA chapter, be an active member of the FFA for at least two years, complete 360 hours of systematic school instruction in agricultural education at or above the ninth-grade level, complete a supervised agricultural experience program and have a satisfactory scholastic record.
They must also have participated in at least five FFA activities above the chapter level, demonstrated their leadership ability by performing 10 procedures of parliamentary law, served as an officer, committee chairperson or a participating member of a chapter committee and have given a 6-minute speech on a topic relating to agriculture or FFA.
The Penns Manor Keystone recipients and their supervised agricultural experiences are Jake Barr, wildlife management; Miguel Gracian, landscaping; Garrett Karlinsey, forestry; Adam Miller, maple syrup production; April Pennington, community project; John Stibrik, farm business management; Elizabeth Weinzierl, dairy farm placement; and Megan Yeckley, pleasure horse entrepreneurship.
The Marion Center Area High School Keystone Degree recipients and their supervised agricultural experiences are Alyshia Talmage, swine and market lamb production; and Kara Zolocsik, market beef production.
The National FFA Association, formerly known as the Future Farmers of America, has more than 500,000 members in all 50 states. Pennsylvania is home to nearly 10,000 members.
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The Ken Wetzel family, of Rossiter, will be bringing home ribbons for livestock judging again this year from the farm show. The Wetzels exhibited the show’s Reserve Champion Chester White swine. The Wetzels also won first place for their Chester White January gilts and second place and fifth place for their Spotted Swine January gilts.
[PHOTO: Ken Wetzel and family, of Rossiter, exhibited the Farm Show’s Reserve Champion Chester White hog. (Submitted photo)]
The Chambers Family Farm, of Punxsutawney, won first place for Spotted Swine February gilts and 10th place for Duroc February gilts.
Robert and Darlene Livingston’s Mahoning Creek Farms, Smicksburg, placed 11th and 13th for Duroc February gilts.
Laken Pudliner, of New Florence, and Lindsey Marshall, of Creekside, won second- and third-place ribbons for their market goats.
Sisters Elizabeth and Abigail Bruner, and their mother, Connie, of Blairsville, won 10 awards for baked goods, canned foods, sewing projects and posters.
Louis Kopczyk, of Clymer, won third place for his entry of first cutting grass in the Hay and Straw Department.
Other Indiana County winners in the show’s Family Living Department were Natalie Pavik, Blairsville; Mary Ann Ostach, Blairsville; William McConnell, Blairsville; Alexis McConnell, Blairsville; Lori Richardson, Glen Campbell; and Tiffany Davis, Josephine.
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Fred Foster, of Indiana, who has displayed his miniature farm layout for 13 years at the Indiana County Fair, is making his debut this week at the farm show.
Foster was invited to bring his display of 1/16th-scale farm machinery and dioramas — including one part that depicts his grandparents’ farm in Brush Valley Township decades ago — to the farm show and he transported it there for the first time in a 16-foot trailer and set it up on 12 tables.
Foster made many of the models in the display by hand, including an Oliver threshing machine like the ones manufactured in the late 1930s to separate wheat and oat grain from straw.
“It’s a great reaction” his display is getting from farm show visitors, Foster said. First Lady Susan Corbett spent about a half-hour admiring the layout.
“She had more questions than anybody else,” Foster said.
The Pennsylvania Farm Show is the largest indoor agricultural event in the nation, with 24 acres under one roof and nearly 6,000 animals, 10,000 competitive exhibits and nearly 300 commercial exhibitors. The show continues through Saturday at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center in Harrisburg. Admission is free and parking is $10. More information is available at www.farmshow.pa.state.us.