A Heart For 4-H

Holly Crandall with her Angus Crossbred steer during the initial weigh-in for the 2018 Beef Project. “As a kid, my dad talked a lot about the fun he had showing beef cattle and thought I should give it a try,” Crandall said. Submitted photo

Editor’s Note: The Chautauqua Region Community Foundation is commemorating its 40th anniversary this year. Throughout the year, the foundation is highlighting 40 stories that are indicative of the impact foundation-funded programs and initiatives have had on the community.

Every gift creates a story. This story was inspired by gifts to The Cornell Cooperative Extension of Chautauqua County 4-H Endowment Fund.

Growing up on a family farm in Ellington, Holly Crandall heard many stories of her father’s time in 4-H.

“As a kid, my dad talked a lot about the fun he had showing beef cattle and thought I should give it a try,” Crandall said.

She began showing steers at the age of eight, and two years later began showing beef heifers. At just 10 years old, Crandall was required to care for her calf, as well as, track its weight, food intake, and other expenses in order to calculate a profit after it was sold at the annual meat sale during the Chautauqua County Fair.

As she got older, 4-H allowed Crandall take on a leadership role by serving as a junior committee member and junior superintendent for the beef project.

“4-H is important to me because it has taught me many diverse life skills such as record keeping, public speaking, how to effectively communicate with both adults and other children, as well as, how to respectfully stand up for what you believe in,” Crandall said.

Today, Crandall is a junior at Cassadaga Valley Central School, taking honors and college classes. When she graduates next year, she hopes to attend college and earn a degree in veterinary science. She is also the president of the Wild Oats 4-H Club.

According to Kate Ewer, Chautauqua County 4-H Community Educator, Crandall is just one of hundreds of 4-H youth members throughout the county reflecting the principles of positive youth development and experiential learning with the help of its dedicated staff and volunteers.

“(4-H) is an important program for many youth in our community,” Ewer said. “As a 4-H alum, I was connected with positive role models that I still look to today as mentors and as friends.”

On average in Chautauqua County, 150 adult volunteers implement 4-H curriculum, serve as judges, sit on advisory committees and serve as positive role models for youth members, truly making the 4-H model, a family affair.

In 2012, local 4-H leaders announced the creation of The Cornell Cooperative Extension of Chautauqua County 4-H Endowment Fund, and its goal to raise $2 million in order to sustain youth programming today and into the future.

“Reaching that goal means that youth will have opportunities to learn, explore, create and build relationships with positive role models in Chautauqua County forever,” Ewer said.

Since then, many individuals, families and businesses have pledged support to the $2 million goal, including former 4-H member, Pete James.

James, a member of the Stedman Stars in his youth, met his wife Bonnie when they were showing cattle at the 1960 Chautauqua County Fair. At the time, Bonnie was a member of the Canadaway Club.

During the 2013 Chautauqua County 4-H Meat Animal Sale, in the barn where James and Bonnie first met, James, their daughter Terri Lynn, Bonnie’s brother Sherman and his wife Dottie, made their first donation to the fund.

“Seeing (the article announcing the fund) caused me to think about how important 4-H is to the kids in this county and how important it has been to our own family,” James said at the time.

And while 4-H has been an important piece of the Crandall family for several generations, it’s not just about the family you are born into, but the one you create.

“4-H has been a great way for many kids to join a community where there is nothing but respect (for one another) and a family-like environment,” Crandall said. “I truly feel like all of my 4-H friends are not just friends, but an extended part of my family.”

For 40 years, the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation has worked together with its inspiring donors, selfless volunteers and grateful community organizations to share their stories for enriching the quality of life for all who live here.

A gift to the Foundation adds another chapter in our community’s unending story. Learn more at crcfonline.org.