County 4-H Program Volunteers Honored By Human Services Council

Posted: April 24, 2012

Several county 4-H members and volunteers were recently honored by the Human Services Council of Indiana County.

Pam Nealer, leader with the Trailblazers 4-H Horse Club, was named Volunteer of the Year. The Gordon 4-H Club, led by Clark and Connie Bruner, was named the Volunteer Group of the Year for the club community service activity. Two members – Garrett Richardson and Bonnie Reilly – were winners of Indiana County Student Community Service Scholarships, sponsored by S&T Bank and the Human Services Council. The Volunteer Recognition Breakfast is an annual event to honor county volunteers.

Winner of Group Award – Gordon 4-H Club, represented by Connie Bruner, club leader; and Jesse Isenberg, club president; nominated by Penn State Extension and Indiana County 4-H.

If you have ever traveled to Blairsville during any of the patriotic holidays and marveled at the beautiful flag display at the Blairsville Cemetery, you have seen a truly beautiful display that is unique in our county. However, all of those flags need raised and lowered by someone. And that takes time and effort. (The flag program is coordinated by the Blairsville Cemetery Association and St. Simon and Jude Church.)

The Gordon 4-H Club, based in the Blairsville area, has chosen to help with the flag raising and lowering as part of their community service effort. An estimated 200 flags are part of the display. The Gordon Club has been in existence for many years, but recently changed organizational leaders, and with new leadership, there has been a new commitment to community service for the club. The new club leaders are Clark and Connie Bruner. In discussion with club members, it was agreed that as many members as possible would help whenever the flags need to be raised and lowered. During 2011, 7 members of the club and some parents helped with this process four times – Memorial Day, Flag Day, July 4, and Veteran’s Day. Members like to see the flags flying and think the activity is fun and exciting. They also enjoying getting to know and talk with the veterans who also help with the flags. They get to hear good stories and learn more about the vets who have lived in the area. It is a great citizenship experience for all involved. Connie estimates that 45 hours of time were spent in this process. The club has also done other community service as well during 2011. Members made crafts for a local nursing home and then delivered those crafts to the home and visited the residents. This was a great inter-generational experience as the members actually visited residents in their rooms and were able to talk with them one-on-one. A total of 23 members and parents made the crafts, and 19 members and parents visited the home. This was a total of 42 hours of time.

The club also visited Tractor Supply Company during the 4-H Paper Clover Campaign and provided a free lunch to people who had donated a clover to the campaign. Members interacted with the public and learned communication skills. This involved three people with nine hours of time.

Total time spent in community service by this club during 2011 – 96 hours.

Volunteer of the Year

Pam Nealer, nominated by Penn State Extension and Indiana County 4-H Pam is a leader with the Trailblazers 4-H Horse Club and has 31 years of service with the county 4-H program. She contributes to the 4-H program beyond the club level by participating in programming at county, regional, and state levels. She contributed over 400 hours of service during 2011.

Pam contributes many hours each month to her local club, a large group with 25 members.She mainly serves as a project leader and encourages club members to develop skills by participating in county contests such as horse bowl and hippology. Pam serves as a moderator for the county horse bowl contest, chosen because of her fairness and ability to work well with the contestants who are often very nervous. She currently serves as chair of the county horse leaders committee.

At the district level, Pam serves as the county representative to the District 10 Horse Program Committee and serves as a show committee member. Pam often is the peacemaker in discussions with disgruntled exhibitors and their parents. She also designs the hunter and jumper courses. She also provides the actual jumps and equipment for these classes, often traveling many miles to deliver the items.

Pam is making a major contribution to the state 4-H horse program at a state level by serving as a member of the State Horse Program Development Committee which determines policy and programs for the state horse program. Her membership involves a major time and financial commitment, with meetings in State College and many conference calls during the year. Her work with this group includes the endowment fund, rule book committee, and Team Horse Power, a group of teens teaching others. Pam makes a major contribution to the State 4-H Horse Show each year by designing the courses for the jumping classes, providing a quality course worthy of state competition.

Pam is a also an Level 4 Examiner for horsemanship skills, which means that she herself has a very high degree of riding ability and can work with members in determining their skill level. Her involvement in the program has improved riding skills and horse knowledge for hundreds of youth across the state. Her local impact is with 65 county members, but her work in improving horsemanship skills is multiplied with hundreds of members many times over at the regional and state level.

Pam’s commitment at this level takes many, many hours of dedication. Her family business has made many contributions to the county program, especially to support teams attending national horse contests. She is very rarely reimbursed for any of her expenses in traveling to other counties where she does clinics or programs, and she often turns down reimbursement even when it is offered. She drives several thousand miles a year on 4-H business. She makes a financial commitment as well as a time commitment to the program.