4-H leader recalls years of memories

LEWISTOWN – Joann Lindsey, of Lewistown, pledged her head, heart, hands and health to building a better community more than 60 years ago.

In 1944, at 10 years old, Lindsey joined a 4-H capon – castrated male chicken – club. She said she has been involved in 4-H most of the time since then.

Lindsey said she participated in cooking and sewing clubs in Snyder County 4-H.

Her first and only animal project in Mifflin County 4-H was a Hereford calf when she was 16 years old.

Lindsey took her calf to the Pennsylvania Farm Show in 1950, but wasn’t permitted to stay there overnight with her brother.

“We had to sleep on bales (of hay) down there, and my mother wouldn’t let me go,” she remembered. “She said it’s no place for a girl to sleep.”

Lindsey said her brother was homesick after staying overnight alone. She got to stay with him the next evening- and her calf won Grand Champion in the show.

At that time, there were more young men than young women in 4-H, she said. Girls were mostly involved in vegetable and flower projects rather than farm animals.

Lindsey became a 4-H leader in 1967 – 13 years after a county fair was held for the first time in Mifflin County – and she has continued to serve in leadership roles since then.

“I always led a sewing club,” she said. “There were times I picked up the children at home and returned them to their homes after the club.”

Lindsey no longer leads a sewing club, but she helps with the Decatur 4-H Community Club, led by her daughter, Elaine Wagner. She has also served on the Mifflin County Fair Board for about 10 years.

Lindsey said her lifetime of 4-H involvement has been an effort to, “keep the children out of trouble.”

“I believe in 4-H. That’s why I spent so many years as a leader and continue to do so,” she said.

Lindsey has earned her 45-year leader pin. Her late husband, Howard Lindsey, and her daughter, Colette Lindsey, also were 4-H leaders. Lindsey’s children, most of her grandchildren and her great-granddaughter have been involved in 4-H as members.

Despite a world that is constantly changing, Lindsey said the 4-H program has mostly stayed the same throughout the years. However, she was disappointed that the program added a cost for participation.

“You have to pay now. I never liked that they did that,” she said. “I think, really, in the long run, it has cut down some kids.”

Still, Lindsey continues to encourage clearer thinking, greater loyalty, larger service and better living through 4-H.

“I have never been sorry I became a leader,” she said. “I always liked to see young people dedicated to something of value.”

The following 4-H/FFA shows will be held today at the Mifflin County Youth Park in Reedsville:

10 a.m. – open dairy show;

2 p.m. – dairy feeder show;

4 p.m. – dog rally;

6 p.m. – dog fun show (pavilion);

7 p.m. – breeding sheep and market lamb show.