4-H leader honored for years of service

First Posted: 6/9/2014

Hilda Lewis, who has been a 4-H leader for 50 years, was honored at the Lackawanna County Cooperative Extension Association’s 2014 annual meeting, held at the Abington Senior Center June 7.

This was the 100th annual meeting.

The 84-year-old taught sewing in her home, cooking and shooting sports. She received the Silver Medal for 4-H Outstanding Girl in Agriculture in PA in 1950. Lewis is known as “Grandma” to many campers at Camp Shehaqua, where she has served as a camp counselor and activity leader for 35 years.

Lewis had many accomplishments throughout her 50 years. She attended the 4-H roundup every year and her club members participated in 4-H capital day in Harrisburg, where they interacted with state officials on 4-H-related issues.

4-H was founded in 1902 as a youth organization. The name represents four personal development areas of focus for the organization head, heart, hand and health.

At the meeting, Lewis, who served on the cooperative board, received the 2014 Thomas B. Jurchak award. The award is presented to an individual who has made a significant contribution to the Lackawanna County Extension program for advancing its goals of education in agriculture, family living, youth, and community development.

Thomas B. Jurchak was the county extension director and dedicated 38 years of service to Lackawanna County. Lewis also received proclamations from the Lackawanna County Commissioners, Senator John Blake and Senator Pat Toomey.

“I joined 4 H when I was 11 or 12 and later on, took a few years off to have children,” Lewis said. “I have always enjoyed it. The parents and friends help me and even the girls.

“I have kept in touch with many of the girls and enjoy seeing what they are doing. Some have entered the fields of teaching, nursing, law and psychiatry. It makes me proud of the accomplishments that these girls have done,” she said.

Mary Ann Stefko was one of several students of Lewis’ in attendance.

“I went to Mrs. Lewis when I was 8 and stayed until I went to college. One of the first projects I did was making slippers out of washcloths which my mom still has,” she said. “Mrs. Lewis was always supportive and taught you to do it right. She taught me a life lesson that you may have to do it more than once but then it will be done right.”

The Penn State Cooperative Extension was formed by a land grant university under the Smith Lever Act. The act provided funding for outreach endeavors at land grant universities. The extension was recognized by the Lackawanna County Commissioners, Senator Blake and Senator Toomey.

“The coop holds several programs at the senior center including a growing stronger exercise program, a senior nutrition program and dining with diabetics where people learn to self-manage and control their disease through diet,” said Terry Schettni, Extension District Director.

The program ended with a walk through the community gardens with master gardener Donna Zagrapan.

“We have 100 plus plots and all are taken. Every kind of vegetable is planted along with flowers, strawberries and blueberries,” she said. “Gardening is a lot of work. You cannot put a seed in the ground and expect it to grow. It needs to be watered and weeded.”

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