by Sue Ann Rybak
For over 20 years, young people from all over the city have gathered at the Manatawna-Saul Farm in Roxborough to learn about agriculture, work with livestock animals and build lifelong friendships, thanks to the dedication of 4-H leaders Scott Moser, of Roxborough, and the late Michael McCrea, of Olney.
Pennsylvania State Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding honored Moser and remembered McCrea at the 102nd Pennsylvania Farm Show held earlier this month in Harrisburg. Redding said the farm show is the “ideal venue” to celebrate the Manatawna-Saul 4-H club and “two of the volunteers who have devoted more than 20 years each to its success.”
“Both stayed active long after their own children had aged out, demonstrating leadership, teaching showmanship skills and transporting animals to sales and competitions, always ready to help in whatever capacity was needed,” he said.
(People might be surprised to learn that Philadelphia has two agricultural 4-H clubs, the Manatawna-Saul 4-H club and the Fox Chase 4-H club. Children in 4-H clubs learn to raise and show beef cattle, market lambs and pigs. They are open to young people ages 8-18.) Redding presented citations to the family of McCrea, a long time 4-H parent and leader who died suddenly last fall. His widow, Debbie McCrea, and adult children, Esther Jones and Sean Diamond, accepted the citation for him.
Former 4-H club member Thomas Sohler, who now lives in New Jersey, spoke of how encouraging McCrea was, a man who was always positive. Sohler began to choke up as he recalled McCrea’s enthusiasm and spirit. “He was always encouraging us,” he said. “always encouraging.”
4-H veteran Sarah Rybak, 15, of Germantown, who joined the club when she turned 8 years old, also broke into tears while remembering McCrea. “I saw him my first day in the club, coming up the road where we walk pigs, and he was smiling. If I was having a bad day, he would give me a high-five and try to make me smile. He had the ability to make anyone laugh no matter how they were feeling.”
Caroline Rybak, 13, of Germantown, spoke of how Moser taught her important things about agriculture, like “Don’t try and test if an electric fence is on by touching it,” a comment that drew chuckles from the crowd.
“More importantly,” she added, “I have learned the value of responsibility, teamwork and leadership skills. His perseverance and integrity are just a few of the qualities that continue to inspire me every day. As I grow each day, I see all the different lives that he has touched. I hope one day I can do the same. Thank you, Mr. Moser, for the knowledge you have given me. Thank you for helping me grow into the 4H-er that I am today. I would not be the same person that I am today without you.”
A statement from former 4-H member Annie Snoddy, now a doctoral student living in New Zealand, was read. “Scott Moser and his family certainly had a positive impact on my life, particularly during my teenage years. I learned a lot about hard work and self-sacrifice from him, which has helped me enormously throughout my life and has been particularly formative for my career as an adult.”
In an interview after the ceremony Esther Jones said she was happy to have her father’s “tireless work be recognized and appreciated. He did so much for the 4-H club and was always so happy doing it. If he could have made it a paying job, I think he would have! That’s how dedicated he was to the club and to the children.”
For more information on the Manatawna-Saul 4-H club, visit manatawna-saul4h.weebly.com.