Tucked into the southern portion of the Pocono Mountains, Monroe County is conveniently located within driving distance to many metropolitan centers and offers residents may reasons to live in the area. Packed into its 609 square miles is a rare combination of natural beauty and recreational activities, including the scenic Delaware Water Gap. As far back as the 1800’s, people flocked to the Pocono Mountains region to enjoy the clean, cool air and relaxing environment.
4-H got its start in Monroe County around 1916 as Rural Life Days, the forerunner of fairs and offered the opportunity to introduce 4-H projects to schools around the county. By 1918, there were 24 boys and girls in a Pig Club. In 1929 the first rabbit 4-H club was started. The Ag Agent and Home Economist had responsibility for working with 4-H leaders and clubs during the early years. The first “youth agent”, a Community Development Agent, was hired in 1973 as a multi-county position. In 1976, a 4-H Program Assistant was hired through CETA funding, which due to its success, later developed into a county funded position (1987). With the county’s rapid growth, the University added a 4-H agent to Monroe County 1980.
Because of residing in the Pocono Mountain area, Cooperative Extension and the Monroe County Sportsman’s Club started sponsoring a wildlife week contest in 1968 to educate youth about environmental issues.
In the 1990’s, enrollment was a blend of traditional clubs (horse, nutrition, rabbit) and school enrichment (embryology and nutrition). In 2002, the Pocono Mountain Dairy club, once very active, disbanded after 44 years of teaching youth. The Dairy club was Monroe County’s oldest 4-H club.
Contributed by Dawn M. Olson, County Extension Director and Sherri L. Abbruzzi, 4-H Program Coordinator.