12/22/2012 7:00 AM
By Sue Bowman Southeastern Pa. Correspondent
LEBANON, Pa. — There is some irony in knowing that when Pennsylvania’s first 4-H club got its start 100 years ago, it was just one year after the 1911 birth of Joseph “Joe” K. Kreider in South Lebanon Township, Pa. While Joe wasn’t old enough to join up and wear 4-H green and white for a few years, when he did so, he started a Lebanon County 4-H dynasty that currently extends to the fourth generation. Now, Kreider’s son, Richard “Dick” Kreider, grandson, Brian Kreider, granddaughter, Jodi Kreider Dresch, and four great-grandchildren have all been part of Lebanon County’s 4-H clubs, including being 4-H leaders, for more than nine decades.
The Kreider family was among the dozen 4-H Centennial Families honored on Dec. 6 at the Penn State Cooperative Extension banquet held at the Lebanon Valley Expo Center in Lebanon, Pa. Centennial Families are those who have three or more generations of 4-H involvement in their family history, with at least one member of the immediate family still actively involved in some facet of 4-H work.
By the time family patriarch Joe Kreider died at age 96 in 2007, he had left his mark on many aspects of the local 4-H organization. Not only was he a Lebanon County 4-H Livestock Club member who showed baby beef (the name for a steer in earlier times) at the Pennsylvania Farm Show when it was originally located on Cameron Street in Harrisburg, but he also went on to become an adult leader of that club.
Joe’s son Dick Kreider is “a chip off the old block” when it comes to farming and 4-H. Dick, who was born on the second floor of the South Lebanon Township farmhouse where he still lives, started his 4-H career in the late 1940s. Not surprisingly, he became active in the Livestock Club. In addition to his father, he recalls being mentored by 4-H leaders Joe M. Kreider, Victor Bomgardner and Harry Schaeffer. Dick Kreider remembers that back when he was in 4-H, the leaders would make a trip to Virginia cattle country and return with a rail car of Club calves for the young herdsmen to purchase.
Dick Kreider has gone on to share his own livestock expertise as a 4-H leader for more than 40 years. When asked why he chose to devote his time to 4-H youngsters, Kreider’s wry sense of humor showed through when he responded, “I guess I don’t know any better!”
He added, in a more serious vein, “It keeps kids out of trouble.”
Dick Kreider is understandably proud of his children and grandchildren who have followed in his 4-H footsteps. His daughter, Jodi Dresch, started out in 4-H with the Lebanon County Livestock Club, as well as the Avon East 4-H Club, a home economics club led by Joanne Rittle, where she pursued cooking and needlecraft projects. Jodi achieved her highest honor by winning best of show at the Lebanon Area Fair one year with her macramé table. She also showed swine at the Pennsylvania Farm Show.
A 4-H memory that makes Jodi chuckle is competing against her younger brother, Brian. “Brian always won, and he was just a little peanut in those days!” she said.
Jodi, a third-grade teacher in the Cornwall-Lebanon School District, lives in East Hanover Township with her husband, Heath Dresch, and their three children. Like their Kreider forbearers, the Dresch children have found their niches in 4-H.
Eighteen-year-old Tanner Dresch, now a pharmacy major at Wilkes College, just completed his last year of 4-H competition at the 2012 Lebanon Area Fair. His younger sister, 17-year-old Kelsea, had an especially busy year showing three animals at the fair — especially after she was named Lebanon Area fair queen. She rose to the challenge and won the grand champion market lamb prize for the fourth year running. Their little brother, Luke, age 9, just completed his first year in 4-H, where he showed swine and sheep. He’ll be exhibiting a steer in 2013.
Dick Kreider’s son, Brian Kreider, is a partner — not only in the family’s farming operation, which includes growing corn, soybeans and wheat on the 90-acre home farm and an additional 350 rented acres — but also in the Pioneer seed business begun by Brian’s grandfather, Joe Kreider. Brian is a Penn State graduate and, with his degree in animal science, is a contributor to the success of the Kreiders’ Angus beef cattle herd.
A 4-H Livestock Club participant in his youth and now a leader in that same club, Brian Kreider and his wife, Jill, are the parents of two young children. While three-year-old Isaac is still too young to participate in 4-H, six-year-old Landon just completed his first year as a Clover Bud. The attention of his family and the local community has been especially focused on Landon since he was diagnosed with leukemia just a few months ago. Landon is responding well to treatment and has received overwhelming community support from the proceeds of two auctioned items — a shawl and an Amish scooter — at the November 2012 Lebanon County Farm-City Banquet.
When looking at families such as the Kreiders, it’s easy to see why 4-H has flourished for 100 years.
The other local 4-H Centennial Families honored at the Lebanon County Extension banquet held at the Lebanon Valley Expo Center included the Bushong-Binkley family; the Fisher family; the Houser family; the Rexrode family; the Royer family; the Seaman family; the Rohrbach-Siegel family; the Maulfair family; the Bomgardner family; the Bashore family; and the Grumbine family. Each family was presented with a pewter plate and a certificate. Dick Kreider was also recognized as a 40-year 4-H leader.
The Lebanon County Extension board president, Brent Kaylor, served as emcee for the evening’s activities, which included a catered meal featuring a 4-H-themed dessert. Penn State Creamery’s new flavor, “4-H Centennial,” appropriately consisting of green mint ice cream with Oreo cookie pieces, was a big hit with the crowd and it was dished out by Lebanon County’s dairy princess, Royell Bashore, and her court.