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Part Of The Fair, Part Of The Community August 11, 2017

Local Family Reflects On Annual Event

Scott and Deb Schmittel of Londonderry Township and their family first got involved at the Elizabethtown Fair about 15 years ago, when their daughter Lia entered a few family living projects. Lia went on to enter rabbits and later showed pigs, sheep, and dairy beef. And in 2013, Lia was crowned the Elizabethtown Fair Queen. "It was a huge turning point for me and my family," recalled Scott. "(The fair board) welcomed us in, and away we went."

Lia's year serving as queen was one marked with good memories. She participated in as much of the fair as possible as Deb followed closely behind with a camera. Handing out ribbons, riding in the barrel train, tossing hay bales, riding pedal power tractors, enjoying the frog jumping contest, and spending time in the dunk tank made for quite a week. "We saw and did many things we had not paid much attention to in the past, finding many new favorites and a new appreciation for the fair and its volunteers," Deb shared.

Not only did Lia excel in her duties as queen during the week of the fair, she went on to be crowned as the 2014 Pennsylvania State Fair Queen at the Pennsylvania Association of County Fairs state convention. "When we finished that year, we had gotten to know the fair board better and also had seen how much more there was to fairs," Scott said.

Scott joined the board in 2014 and was elected as a director in 2016. As a family, the Schmittels also began coordinating the rabbit show and animal petting tent in 2014. "Lia serves as the rabbit chairperson, organizing and running the rabbit show, and I organize and run the petting tent, which includes both animals and lots of volunteers," Deb explained. Lia also serves on the Elizabethtown Fair Board as a general board member and rabbit chair.

"We are incredibly blessed to be part of the Elizabethtown Fair," said Deb. "The fair is organized and run entirely by volunteers, so when you are part of the fair, you become part of a community."

So, with their strong commitment to the Elizabethtown Fair, what would the Schmittels advise attendees not to miss out on? The animal petting tent, of course, located off Ag Lane between the antique tractors and the livestock show ring. Individuals may meet and interact with rabbits, goats, sheep, and other small animals. Lia's miniature donkey, Penelope, will be making a first-time appearance as well. "Most evenings and Saturday there are extra events in the tent including sheep-to-shawl (demonstrations), exotic animal encounters, and even cheese making," Deb said.

During Lia's reign as the state queen, the Schmittels had the opportunity to visit 19 county fairs throughout the state, giving them an ever deeper appreciation for Elizabethtown. "(The Elizabethtown Fair is) very ag-centric, the way fairs started," Scott said. The small-town community atmosphere also sets Elizabethtown apart, said Deb, adding that the event is well-balanced with rides, games, vendors, activities, family living projects, animals, and food.

"I love watching the empty fields become the bustling city of the fair (and) seeing it all come together," Scott stated. "I love watching the people coming through the tent to see the animals. And there is the food ... we have the best food."

The 44th annual Elizabethtown Fair is set to take place from Monday, Aug. 21, through Saturday, Aug. 26. The fairgrounds will be open to the public from 5 to 11 p.m. on Aug. 21 and from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 22, to Aug. 26. Admission is free; however, there is a fee for parking. For more details, readers may visit


Youths Share Their Knowledge At 4-H Fair August 9, 2017

The goal of the Chester County 4-H Fair is to provide a venue for youths from throughout the county to showcase their livestock and to display the projects they have been working on for the past year. The event also gives them an opportunity to share their knowledge with others.

Fair Week was Aug. 7 to 12 this year at the Romano 4-H Center in Honey Brook. On Aug. 8, free tours of the fair were offered to the community. Among those who took part in the tour were about 30 youngsters from southern Chester County who traveled to the center via school bus and several motor vehicles, courtesy of the Penn State Cooperative Extension.

Toni Stuetz, 4-H youth development coordinator, said that many of the students would otherwise not have a chance to experience the fair firsthand or to see farm animals up close and to pet them. "Most of the kids are from our summer outreach programs where we bring 4-H to them in their communities," she said. "These kids would not normally have day camp opportunities or experiences, so we bring 4-H to them."

During the visit, students rotated through various learning stations. "There was a sheep station and a swine station," Stuetz said. "Pony Partners (4-H Club presented) a program, and there was a program on goats and pigeons."

Alpine goats were displayed by Xavier Reith, who created an informational poster about goats including what they most like to eat - peanuts. The pigeon program was presented by his brother, Shane Reith. Both are members of the Sparks 4-H Club.

Shane brought several pigeons for the children to meet, including a large black Indian Fantail that does not fly. "Pigeons will always go back to where they were born. If you bring them across the country, they will try to fly back," Shane said. "They are kind of like river salmon, who try to go back to where they were born."

Shane added that the pigeons he raises are different from those that can be found in big cities. "Pigeons in the city have rough feathers because they have to live through cold weather. These live in nice little coops with insulation," he said, adding, "They can't turn their head completely around - 180 degrees - but they can turn their head about 140 degrees."

The Pony Partners 4-H Club was represented by Suzanna Angstadt and her miniature ponies. She said that the ponies are used to teach youngsters about horses and how to care for them during day camps and school programs.

In addition to meeting and learning about the animals, the visiting youngsters were able to view the many projects on display that were completed during the year by 4-H members from throughout Chester County. There were displays of handmade quilts and tote bags, homegrown vegetables, posters and more.

4-H is the youth development program of Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences, Cooperative Extension. Anyone ages 8 to 18 may join 4-H.

For more information, readers may call 610-696-3500 or visit


Oxford Offers Summer Learning Academies August 2, 2017

Each summer, the Oxford Area School District (OASD) offers students the opportunity to participate in free learning academies, providing a fun way to enhance the skills they developed during the past school year and to help them prepare for their lessons in the fall. This summer, 216 students were enrolled in the seven academies.

The Art Academy was taught by Jordan Bank Elementary School art teacher Mallory Moran. During the four-day session, students created clay sculptures, paper fish and puppets, and batik tote bags. They also learned about printmaking.

Participants in the Summer Youth Fitness Academy enjoyed activities such as volleyball, basketball and tennis. The academy also featured a classroom component on nutritional education. The instructor was Helen Irwin, health and physical education teacher at Penn's Grove School.

Students in the Summer Math Academy participated in a variety of math enrichment activities, including playing math-related games both online and in the classroom. The students also had fun filling water balloons, measuring each balloon's size in meters and then letting it fly on the Penn's Grove School tennis courts. After impact, the students measured the size of the splash in relation to the balloon's size. The instructor was Mark Neff, science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) teacher at Hopewell Elementary School.

Hopewell band director Ryan Maule was the director for the Summer Music Academy, and Jason McLeod, business education teacher at Oxford Area High School, was the instructor for the newly-added Computer Programming and Coding Academy.

Also offered was a Young Authors Academy and a STEM Academy.

All academies, held at Hopewell Elementary School, were free to OASD students.


REYS Prepares For Backpacks To School July 28, 2017

A young person's attitude toward school and whether or not they have the supplies they need can make a huge difference in setting them up for academic success, explained Rainbows End Youth Center (REYS) executive director Joel Hughes, and that is part of the reason that the center's annual Backpacks to School program was established five years ago.

"We had some students involved in a homework program, and they could earn points to get little prizes," Hughes recalled. One student was savings his points for a backpack and eventually told a staff member he was going to give it to one of his friends who did not have one. That sparked the beginning of Backpacks to School, a collection drive to supply local students with an age-appropriate backpack at no cost.

Backpacks to School is for students in kindergarten through grade 12, regardless of where they live or attend school. To sign up to receive a new backpack fully stocked with school supplies, interested individuals may visit or call 717-653-9511. An individual pickup appointment will be scheduled for each family during the week of Monday to Friday, Aug. 14 to 18, at REYS, 105 Fairview St., Mount Joy.

Hughes noted that scheduling appointments instead of having one mass collection date helps to save everyone some time instead of waiting in line and it preserves the dignity of each parent and child. He anticipates more than 500 backpacks will be distributed this year, as last year's giveaway reached a total of 485.

Many of the recipients come from the Donegal and Manheim Central school districts, where REYS works alongside social workers and guidance counselors to help spread the word, but Hughes said they see more and more folks from other districts near and far each year.

Community members may think Backpacks to School is only for a single parent or a parent who is currently unemployed, but REYS staff and volunteers have learned that the stories and situations vary far beyond those groups. For instance, last summer a grandparent came to get backpacks for five of her grandchildren whom she had unexpectedly begun taking care of full time while on a fixed income in retirement. "When she came to pick them up she was just extremely grateful," Hughes said.

Several local churches, businesses, and organizations have contributed to the annual program, and donations of new backpacks filled with school supplies are greatly appreciated. High school-appropriate backpacks and three-ring binders are especially needed. Interested individuals may drop off donations at REYS by Friday, Aug. 11. "We have some people who use it as a family activity and have their student pick out a backpack for themselves and for someone else, and just buy two of everything," said Hughes.

Individuals who miss the distribution week in August are still welcome to call 717-653-9511 to inquire about receiving a backpack, and Hughes and the REYS staff members will be happy to assist.


Community Groups Will Present Veterans Concert July 27, 2017

The 25th annual Veterans Concert presented by the Lampeter-Strasburg (L-S) Community Band to honor America's servicemen and women will be held at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 6, on the lawn in front of the borough office at 145 Precision Ave., Strasburg.

The concert will be open to the public free of charge. Attendees may bring lawn chairs or blankets for seating. In the event of rain, the concert will be held in the Strasburg Fire Station, 203 Franklin St.

The concert is sponsored by the Strasburg Lions Club in recognition of veterans who are residents of the Strasburg area.

The L-S Community Band is conducted by Howard Boots, and together they have prepared a program of patriotic music and other tunes. Selections will include "The Star-Spangled Banner," "National Emblem March," "Manhattan Beach March," an Armed Forces medley, and "God Bless America." "Bugler's Lament" will feature Joe Gagliardi on trumpet, and vocalist Olivia Daugherty will perform "As Time Goes By" with the band. Additional numbers will include "Swing's the Thing," "Tennessee Salute," "Totally Tina Turner," and "The Pink Panther."

The band is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, commemorating a quarter-century since it was formed in 1992 as the result of an adult education course. The group performs at a variety of local venues throughout the year. Boots is a music education graduate of Millersville University and is an elementary band director in the Cocalico School District. He retired from the Pennsylvania Air National Guard Band of the Mid-Atlantic. Boots also performs with other groups, including local favorites such as the Dave Stahl Big Band.

Currently, the L-S Community Band has about 30 members, but new members are always welcome. The group rehearses each week at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesdays at Community United Methodist Church, 130 Tennyson Drive, Lancaster. For more information, readers may visit

The Strasburg Lions Club was chartered in 1932 as a member of Lions Clubs International and currently has over 50 members. It is one of 49 clubs in the Lancaster-Lebanon area that make up District 14-D of the Pennsylvania Lions.

In addition to sponsoring the Veterans Concert, the Strasburg Lions Club provides financial support to numerous local community organizations such as the Strasburg-Heisler Library, Strasburg/Willow Street Softball Baseball Association, Strasburg Scout House, Strasburg Playground Association, Salvation Army, L-S Post Prom, Santa's Helper, and scholarship awards to L-S High School graduates. The club sponsors and organizes the Strasburg Halloween Parade, assists with the Santa Claus train ride on the Strasburg Rail Road, and supports the Christmas Banquet for VisionCorps.

New members, both men and women, are welcomed by the Strasburg Lions Club. Interested individuals may call 717-575-7462 for more information.


Avon Grove Library Offers August Programming July 26, 2017

Avon Grove Library, 117 Rosehill Ave., West Grove, is offering a variety of programs for patrons of all ages during the month of August.

Babies, toddlers and preschoolers, along with their caregivers, can attend free story times held every weekday at the library. Most are themed for certain age groups, but older and younger siblings are always welcome. No registration is necessary.

Toddler Story Times are held every Tuesday at 9:30 and 10:30 a.m., and Preschool Story Times are held on Mondays at 10 a.m., on Wednesdays at 9:30 and 10:30 a.m., and on Thursdays and Fridays at 10 a.m.

"Teddy Bear Picnic" story times are offered on Tuesdays at noon at Penn Township Park, through Aug. 22.

Avon Grove Library also partners with local businesses to offers story times at their locations. Readers may contact the library for more details at 610-869-2004.

Messy Monday will be held on Aug. 7 at 2 p.m. During the event, the library will open all of its craft cupboards and allow participants to create whatever they desire to make. This is a free program with no registration necessary.

On Tuesday, Aug. 8, at 3 p.m., children in second to fifth grade can become Book Buddies and read together with a teenage volunteer. The program is free, but registration is required.

On Wednesday, Aug. 9, at 2 p.m., children in second to fifth grade will gather in groups to be "Infomaniacs" and tackle a STEM project. No registration is required for the free program.

The Lego Club and Lego Block Party are free, open to all ages, and need no registration. Lego Club is held the first and third Thursday of each month from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.; Lego Block Party is held the fourth Saturday of each month from 1 to 2 p.m. Legos, Duplos or MegaBlocks are provided.

On the first Saturday of each month at 1 p.m., visitors can build setups with tracks, buildings and accessories using the library's collection of GeoTrax trains. This is a free program and no registration is needed.

Teenagers from sixth through 12th grades can participate in special activities in August and earn service hours by volunteering to help at children's and family programs.

"After Hours" Fridays are held at 5:30 p.m. to provide a fun activity for teenagers after the library closes. On Aug. 4, a Bob Ross Paint Party will be featured, where participants will watch Ross' instructional video, then paint with squirt guns. Aug. 11 will be Spa Day, where teenagers will prepare do-it-yourself spa products and smoothies.

Avon Grove Library's Book Club for Adults, which includes a book discussion and snacks, meets on the third Thursday of each month at 6:30 p.m. Participants vote on the titles chosen to read. No registration is necessary for the free program.

Craft and Create for Adults meets the first and second Thursday of each month at 6:30 p.m. Participants bring their own favorite project, such as painting, sewing or scrapbooking, and enjoy the company of other adults while crafting. No registration is necessary for the free program, which is open to adults age 18 and up.

For more information about story times, classes and programs or to register, readers may visit


Seasonal Garden Service Posted July 24, 2017

Dauphin County Master Gardeners are available to answer gardening questions at Penn State Extension - Dauphin County Office, 1451 Peters Mountain Road, Dauphin. The public is invited to call with gardening questions or bring in samples of plants or insects from their gardens for analysis and/or diagnosis. All insects brought into the Dauphin County Office must be dead and must be in a container, preferably with isopropyl alcohol due to the bed bug problem.

This service will be available to the public through Friday, Oct. 27. Office hours are Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Readers may call the Master Gardeners at 921-8803 or visit


Armyworm Targets Variety Of Crops July 18, 2017

Farmers in the area have begun to harvest their barley crop and are finding damage from armyworms, extremely severe in some cases. The larval stage of armyworms feed on a wide variety of crops, including small grains, such as barley, as well as wheat, grass hay, and corn.

The armyworm is nocturnal and thus not noticed during the day. Typically, leaves of grass plants are eaten away leaving only the stems or in the case of corn, the mid-rib of the leaf remain. In small grains, leaves are eaten but the most damaging effect is the feeding on the stems just below the grain head just before the crop is harvested, cutting through the stem leaving unharvestable heads on the ground.

After damaging a field or after that field is harvested, the armyworms move to adjoining fields, preferably other grass type crops, and begin feeding again until the larvae reach a size of 1 to 1.5 inches at which they end feeding and begin metamorphosis.

Farmers are urged to check their fields, especially wheat, for the presence of armyworm damage. Because the insect is active at night, scouting for larvae should be performed in early morning or just before dusk.

Because head clipping is so destructive of wheat yield, insecticide application should be made if two percent of heads are clipped and larvae are present. For corn, threshold for insecticide treatment is 25 percent of corn plants damaged and larvae are present.

For more general information about armyworms, readers may view the fact sheet at


Liederkranz Plans Third Annual Sommer Singspiel July 17, 2017

The Lancaster Liederkranz will offer a unique day camp for school-age students that will focus on experiences with German language, music, authentic food, cultural traditions, and soccer. The camp will be held from Monday through Thursday, Aug. 7 to 10, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Now in its third year, the camp is called Sommer Singspiel, which in German means "play and sing in the summer." It is an outgrowth of the Cultural Grant and Scholarship Fund of the Liederkranz, whose purpose is to provide opportunities for students to experience German language and culture. The camp is open to students entering grades three through 12. A cost for tuition has been set, with discounts for families with more than one student.

The Lancaster Liederkranz was founded as a singing society by German immigrants in Lancaster city in 1880. Now located at 722 S. Chiques Road, Manheim, the Liederkranz continues today as a family organization dedicated to perpetuating and amplifying the founders' original purpose through song, dance, language, art, education, and international cultural exchange. "Liederkranz" means "wreath of songs."

"The membership of native German speakers is dwindling, and with them are going a number of the primary connections to the traditions, songs, and language that were so binding to our immigrant forbears," said Drue Bullington, Singspiel founding director. "(During Sommer Singspiel), we hope to feature traditional songs and guest storytellers who will visit and talk about growing up in Germany."

Students who attend Sommer Singspiel will engage in group singing and playing of instruments, as well as group dances. Bullington noted that drums and ukuleles will be used.

"The ukulele is a viable instrument, but (it is) also a more manageable instrument for a young musician's hands and fingers," she said. "This leads to the playing of the guitar, which has been a folk instrument of German-speaking countries for centuries."

Attendees will also enjoy music and movement activities through which they will learn German vocabulary, multigenerational activities, soccer, and other outdoor games. They will also take part in cooking lessons and German language experiences.

"We'll be exposing students to various holiday traditions and historical and seasonal experiences from various regions of German speaking countries," Bullington remarked. "We'll introduce some crafts and some traditional foods as well. It is going to be very much a learn-by-doing camp, and while it will be very valuable and meaningful, it will be taught in a fun, kid-friendly way."

Lunches will feature traditional German foods alongside American fare. Students may even help to prepare some part of their meals some days, Bullington suggested.

The last afternoon of the camp will feature a sharing showcase in which students may demonstrate what they have learned. After last year's showcase, Liederkranz president Bob Kilp reflected, "It was clearly a fun, informative week and just a great cultural experience, made obvious by the smiles of the performing kids and the happy faces of the audience."

For more information about Sommer Singspiel and to register, readers may visit or contact Bullington at or 717-940-9927.


Science In The Summer Returns With New Topic July 12, 2017

The popular Science in the Summer program returned to Chester County libraries this year with a new course to catch children's interests. This year, students explored the Science of Sports.

While exploring the Science of Sports, students learned how science is used as a tool to help athletes improve their performance. That included learning about the roles of trainers, nutritionists and physical therapists, as well as statisticians and equipment engineers. Hands-on activities included experimenting with healthy sports beverage recipes and creating bouncy balls.

"The kids are loving it so far. Today we're making sports energy drinks," course teacher Tim O'Leary said. "We'll make bouncy balls, then we do some scientific tests."

O'Leary is an eighth-grade science teacher at the Avon Grove Middle School. He sees interest in science increasing among youngsters. "STEM is a huge avenue right now in education, and they love it," he said.

Science in the Summer gives students an educational opportunity during summer vacation that keeps them in touch with academics while having fun. "The kids seem to have really been enjoying it. There's a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of engagement and they're having a great time," O'Leary said. "Their engagement and enthusiasm is unbelievable, and they love everything that we do in the sciences. Our goal, really, is to turn them on to some aspect of science and, as they get older, that they get into a field of science and there are many opportunities for them."

Classes take place over four days, with one-hour sessions each day that are divided by age, with grades two and three together and a separate section for children in grades four through six.

Julie Donell brought her daughter and her daughter's best friend to the sessions at the Oxford Public Library on July 10 through 14. "They both love science and it gives them some educational activities to do in the summer, but it's also really fun for them," she said.

The program is always one of the most popular children's events at the Oxford Library. "We look forward to it every year. It's great to welcome the kids in to learn about science in the library and help with that summer backslide," Oxford Library director Carey Bresler said. "It's always one of our highest attended programs."

Science in the Summer is a free program sponsored by a national health care company, administered by The Franklin Institute, and hosted in partnership with local libraries. Courses are taught by certified local teachers and offer hands-on experiments designed to instill students with a lifelong love of learning and discovery.

In addition to the courses at the Oxford Public Library, the program was also presented at the Atglen Public Library and by the Parkesburg Library at the Parkesburg VFW Hall during the week of July 10 to 14. The program will be offered at the Avon Grove Library from Monday, July 24, through Thursday, July 27. Registration for the program at Avon Grove is closed.

For more information about Science in the Summer, readers may visit


Environmental Day Camp Held At Nottingham Park July 12, 2017

Summer vacation is a perfect time for children to get outdoors, enjoy nature and learn about the environment - all while having fun.

Students ages 8 to 12 took part in a weeklong 4-H Environmental Science Day Camp from July 10 to 14 at Nottingham County Park. The program was offered by the Penn State Extension/Chester County 4-H in conjunction with the park rangers.

"I've done this (program) before with students from the Lighthouse (Youth Center). They enjoyed it so much we wanted to repeat the program and offer it to the general public," said 4-H program assistant Francine Joyce-Martin.

The week of fun activities included a daily hike with a park ranger, nature journaling and hands-on learning, which included water testing and making plaster casts of animal tracks. Topics covered during the sessions included invasive and endangered species, animal signs, insects and reptiles, tree identification and aquatics. For extra fun on the final day, the children went fishing and learned to tie fishing line to their own hooks.

"That is very rewarding," Joyce-Martin said. "Some children we have taken out in the past have never fished before in their life. This was truly an opportunity of a lifetime for them. They are learning life skills here they may have never experienced before."

The campers came from a wide area and were an even mix of children who often play outdoors and others who usually do not.

Joyce-Martin noted that some children may not have the opportunity to experience environmental science and others may be more interested in indoor activities and technology. "There's a glorious amount of things to be learned out here, and it's such a beautiful and calm setting to learn in, too," she noted. "It's nice to be outside in a classroom setting."

Avon Grove Charter School student Emma Smith had only been to Nottingham Park once before this program, but she enjoyed the setting for the camp. The 11-year-old said she was hoping to see animals such as squirrels, raccoons and different types of birds. "Nature's beautiful and you should explore all the different things it has," Emma noted. "Every animal is different and unique by themselves."

A variety of 4-H Summer Specials programs are offered through the Chester County Extension office, including 4-H Robotics Camp, to be held on Monday, July 24, through Friday, July 28, at the Parkesburg Free Library; Exploring Science, to be held Monday, July 31, through Friday, Aug. 4, at the Romano 4-H Center in Honey Brook; and Quilt Quest, to be held July 31 to Aug. 4 at the Romano 4-H Center.

More information and program registration forms can be found at Scholarship assistance is available. For additional information, readers may call the 4-H Extension office at 610-696-3500.


Chester County 4-H Offers Day Camps July 12, 2017

Youths looking for some interesting activities to occupy their time this summer are invited to take part in Summer Specials Camps being offered by the Penn State Extensions and Chester County 4-H. Youths do not have to be 4-H members to participate, and the programs are open to children age 8 and older.

As part of the lineup of Summer Specials, a Robotics Camp will be offered at the Parkesburg Library, 105 West St., Parkesburg, from Monday, July 24, through Friday, July 28. The camp will take place from 10 a.m. to noon. Campers will learn basic construction techniques, simple programming skills and how to use various sensors. They will finish the week with a competition featuring sumo wrestling Lego robots (SuGO). There will be a registration fee for the camp.

Two camps will be offered during the week of Monday, July 31, through Friday, Aug. 4, at the Romano 4-H Center, 1841 Horseshoe Pike (Route 322), Honey Brook.

Exploring Science will be offered from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. During camp, students will learn about drones and hydrogels (absorbent material found in diapers) and build their own bottle rockets.

A Quilt Quest will follow from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Participants will learn basic machine patchwork quilting to create a lap-size quilt. All necessary supplies will be provided. Those who prefer to select their own fabrics are asked to contact the 4-H office by Sunday, July 23, to discuss supplies.

There will be a registration fee, but youths who participate in both camps will receive a reduced fee. Scholarships are available.

Other camps offered by 4-H earlier this summer included a baby-sitting class, a candy making course and a cooking class titled "Making It With Mixes" offered at the Chester County Extension/4-H office in West Chester. There was also an Environmental Science Day Camp held at Nottingham County Park.

Registrations for Summer Specials are processed through the Chester County Extension office. Information for the camps can be found at For more information, readers may call the extension office at 610-696-3500.

Chester County 4-H is also gearing up for the annual Chester County 4-H Fair, which will be held from Monday, Aug. 7, through Saturday, Aug. 12, at the Romano 4-H Center. The annual event is an opportunity for the public to learn about 4-H and a way for all eligible 4-H members to showcase the activities they have taken part in over the previous year.

During the numerous animal shows, 4-H members will demonstrate their skills in the handling and care of farm animals, including dairy cows, breeding sheep and market lambs, swine, goats and horses.

Project categories will include arts, crafts, service projects, plant science, rocketry, robotics, pet care, photography, sewing, citizenship/leadership, foods and nutrition, wildlife, vegetables and plants and many other general exhibits.

Free tours will be provided for the public on Tuesday and Wednesday, Aug. 8 and 9, from 10 a.m. until noon. Those interested in touring the fair are asked to call Toni Stuetz at 610-696-3500 to schedule a guided tour in advance.

More information about the 4-H Fair is available on Facebook by searching for "The Romano 4-H Center of Chester County."


Backyard Barbecue Temperature Tips July 10, 2017

Summer is a time for family vacations, backyard barbecues, and plenty of outdoor activities with food as the centerpiece. But before steaks and burgers go on the grill, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) wants to remind consumers to keep their family and themselves safe from foodborne illness by using a food thermometer to ensure meat and poultry is cooked to the correct internal temperature.

The best and only way to make sure bacteria have been killed and food is safe to eat is by cooking it to the correct internal temperature as measured by a food thermometer. It is a simple step that can stop family and guests from getting foodborne illness.

Recent research by USDA and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found that only 34 percent of the public use a food thermometer when cooking hamburgers. If the internal temperature of burgers are not tested, pathogens may still be present. When eaten, those hamburgers can make guests and family sick.

In fact, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 48 million people suffer from foodborne illness each year, resulting in roughly 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths. To avoid becoming a part of these statistics, the USDA recommends four easy steps to food safety this summer.

Individuals should make sure to always wash their hands and surfaces with soap and warm water for 20 seconds before cooking and after handling raw meat or poultry. If cooking outside or away from a kitchen, clean cloths and moist towelettes should be packed for cleaning surfaces and hands.

When taking food off of the grill, clean utensils and platters should be used. Cooked food should not be put on the same platter that held raw meat or poultry.

A food thermometer should always be used to check the internal temperature of meat and poultry. The food thermometer should be placed in the thickest part of the food.

Internal temperatures required vary by type. Meat and poultry cooked on a grill often browns very fast on the outside, and by using a food thermometer one can be sure items have reached a safe minimum internal temperature needed to destroy any harmful bacteria that may be present.

Hamburgers, sausages and other ground meats should reach 160 F. All poultry should reach a minimum temperature of 165 F. Fish should be cooked to 145 F.

Whole cuts of pork, lamb, veal, and of beef should be cooked to 145 F as measured by a food thermometer placed in the thickest part of the meat and allowed to rest for three minutes before eating. A "rest time" is the amount of time the product remains at the final temperature, after it has been removed from a grill, oven, or other heat source. During the three minutes after meat is removed from the heat source, its temperature remains constant or continues to rise, which destroys pathogens.

Leftovers should be placed in shallow containers and refrigerated and frozen immediately. Food that has been sitting out longer than two hours.

For more food safety information, readers may call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 888-674-6854 on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.


Summer Garden Experience Set For July 22 July 6, 2017

The latest - and possibly the greatest - ornamental flowers, tomatoes, and more are raised at Penn State University's Southeast Agricultural Research & Extension Center (SEAREC), 1446 Auction Road, Manheim. The facility conducts comparisons of new products, as well as experiments. Flower trials director Sinclair Adam explained that horticulture companies send SEAREC seeds or rooted cuttings of their newest products each year. The plants are nurtured in a greenhouse before being moved into pots or ground plots outdoors.

"We try to set up the plants by nutritional requirements," Adam said. He noted that Bed A contains geraniums because of their unique needs. Within every type of plant, each one receives the same kind of care as its neighbor. "If we treat one petunia for root rot, we treat them all," Adam remarked.

Adam's staff members, who include Penn State professors, Master Gardeners, and student interns, regularly assess the health of the plants and check for issues. The insect population is of special interest.

"The last thing you want to do is ship your customer a load of bugs," Adam commented.

Most of the plants are grown in full sun, although some, including impatiens, are raised in partial shade. Beds A through W feature containers, and beds ZA to ZM are in-ground. Every plant is numbered and named so that it can be carefully tracked by Adam and his staff. An organized list is published each year so that visitors, who often include brokers and retailers, can note the plants they like and want to purchase.

"The advantage (for horticulture companies) is you can compare your plants to your competitors' side by side," Adam said.

More than 80 experiments are underway at SEAREC. Some projects compare types of nutrition, biostimulants, and pollinators. Adam noted that researchers verify product claims. For instance, a liquid seaweed was promoted for flowers and produce, but so far, a difference has only been noted in the strength of tomato stems, not flowers.

"One of my colleagues says, 'We kill plants so you don't have to,'" Adam related.

Adam will give tours of the trial beds during the Summer Garden Experience, which will be held on Saturday, July 22, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wagon rides will take visitors around the entire venue and give overviews of the various areas, including the Master Gardener idea gardens. Short seminars will be offered on orchids, turf, edible flowers, green roofs, fruit trees, beneficial insects, raised bed gardening, garlic, hops, tomatoes, peppers, herbs, and more. Visitors may learn about home food preservation, establishing rain gardens, keeping honeybees, and how to interest children in gardening. University of Delaware professor Doug Tallamy, author of several landscaping books, will give talks at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.

"Tallamy is a great guy and a delightful speaker," Adam said.

Folks may make and take home bluebird boxes for a fee, and they may bring garden samples and questions for the Master Gardeners. Additionally, local vendors will sell native plants, dwarf and miniature plants, pollinator plants, green roof birdhouses, native bee houses, coconut coir, and more.

An entrance fee has been set per vehicle. Master Gardener and garden club van and bus groups are welcome. Readers may contact Tim Abbey at 717-840-7408 or for special group package pricing. To learn more about the event, folks may visit


Environmental Center Sets Events July 6, 2017

Governor Dick Environmental Center, 3283 Pinch Road, Mount Gretna, has posted several upcoming programs. Participants should meet at the Environmental Center. Programs are free unless stated otherwise, but preregistration is required. For more information or to register, readers should email or call 717-964-3808 and leave a name and phone number in case a program is canceled.

Summer Story Forest will be offered on Friday, July 14, at 10:30 a.m. The program blends reading and outdoor activities for children ages 2 to 10. There is a fee to participate.

On Saturday, July 15, at 1:30 p.m., a Teddy Bear Hike will be offered. Children may bring a favorite stuffed teddy bear on the hike, during which participants will learn about Pennsylvania's black bears. The event will feature games and activities for families. There is a fee per child.

A Summer Botany and Butterfly Hike will take place on Sunday, July 16, at 2 p.m. Participants may bring field guides if they have them.


Reading Incentive Program Offered July 5, 2017

It is not too late for youngsters and teenagers to take part in the Summer Reading Program being offered by the Boone Area Library in Birdsboro. The program encourages youths to not only to continue to read during the summer months but also to attend the many programs that will be offered this summer at the library. In addition, teenagers are invited to volunteer at the library by shelving books and assisting with other activities.

This year's Summer Reading Program is themed "Build a Better World!" As part of the program, young children through elementary school age are asked to complete activities that are listed on a game sheet, which may be obtained at the library. Every time they complete an activity, youngsters may color in that item on the form.

Some of the activities include attending a library program and reading for 15 minutes. When youths have completed five activities, they can bring their forms to the library to collect a prize.

"Younger readers in the Summer Reading Program read to earn small prize bags that contain things like gift cards, squeeze toys, squirt toys and puzzles," explained children's librarian Lynn Gibson.

Students also receive tickets to earn larger prizes. "There are numbered bags, and the bags are next to the prizes they want to work toward," Gibson said. "(Prizes include) building sets in keeping with the theme, a scooter/kite combination, a small ride-on plane paired with a kite, a construction worker dress-up outfit, a doctor dress-up outfit, an environmental gardening prize, a Minion-themed basket, a Batman-themed basket and a bubble machine."

The completed game sheets will be entered into a drawing for participants to win a grand prize. All forms must be turned in to the library by Saturday, Aug. 20.

For the teen Summer Reading Program, participants can earn one token for a teen prize vending machine by reading for an hour or by volunteering at the library for one hour. "Our teen volunteers help in a variety of ways," said Gibson. "In addition to helping with basic tasks like setting up for events and taking down after events, they create posters and signs, they make sample crafts, they shelve books and they tidy the toddler play area."

Teenagers can earn up to 15 tokens. If they complete all 15 hours, they get a ticket for one of the teen prize baskets, which include a gift card to a local ice cream parlor, a gift card from a comic book company, a Minecraft prize and a Lego Eiffel Tower set. The grand prize for the teenagers will be an e-reader.

The library is also offering a Teen Reading Club. The next club meeting will be on Tuesday, July 25, at 4 p.m. when the group will discuss "Cinder" by Marissa Meyer. Interested teenagers should read the book in advance of the meeting.

To coincide with the Summer Reading Program, special Tuesday night events have been planned throughout the summer for children of all ages. All programs are free and will begin at 6 p.m.

On July 11, there will be a construction magic show being held for the first time at the library. A library pool party will be held at Maple Springs Pool in Birdsboro on July 18. "Birthdays Around the World" will be held on July 25, and a youth theater program will be presented on Aug. 1.

In addition, Story Time With Miss Lisa has been scheduled for Mondays at 10:15 a.m. throughout July and August.

Also offered are Maker Mondays, during which children in kindergarten through grade five may stop by the library between 1 and 3 p.m. to create a craft. Children should be accompanied by their caregivers. Maker Mondays will be held on Mondays, July 17 through Aug. 14.

For more information about the Summer Reading Program, interested readers may stop by the library at 129 N. Mill St., Birdsboro; call the library at 610-582-5666; or visit


Libraries Are The Place To Be This Summer July 5, 2017

With school out of session for the summer and youngsters looking for interesting activities to occupy their time, libraries are the place to be this summer.

At the Village Library of Morgantown, special Summer Reading Program activities are scheduled at 10 a.m. on Wednesdays throughout July and August. The theme of this year's program is "Build a Better World!"

"Bee a Builder," a recent Summer Reading Program event, was presented on June 28 by Bridget Fletcher from Weaver's Orchard in Morgantown. During the program, Fletcher discussed the importance of bees in today's world. "Bees are very important to our food system. They pollinate our food and make everything grow," she told the youngsters, noting that bees only sting when they feel they are in danger. "They also make honey. They are the only insect that makes food that people eat."

After showing a beekeeper's outfit, which includes a mask, long gloves and coveralls, Fletcher also displayed a smoker, which is used by the beekeeper to blow smoke into the hive. "It makes (the bees) sleepy," she explained.

She also displayed a honeycomb, which the bees make after gathering nectar and pollen from flowers. "They come back to the hive and fill these tiny holes with honey," Fletcher explained.

She said that a hive can contain about 50,000 bees. "You have a worker bee, which is the tiniest bee in the hive. These worker bees are all girls. They clean, bring food (and) feed the queen and the other bees," she told the children. "Worker bees will visit about 2 million flowers to make one pound of honey. The queen is the largest bee in the hive. She lays (around) 2,000 eggs in one day."

During the winter, Fletcher added, bees hibernate. "Honey bees feed on the honey they collect during the season," she said. "They live in the hive in the winter in clusters to keep warm."

Upcoming Wednesday programs include the following: July 12, "The Lorax" by Lancaster County Parks and Recreation; July 19, "Build a Better Community," for which attendees are asked to bring a nonperishable food item; July 26, "Animal Architects" by Berks County Parks and Recreation; Aug. 2, "The Clumsy Dragon" by the Yocum Institute; Aug. 9, "Inventions That Helped Build Our World"; and Aug. 16, "Sciencetellers: Tall Ships and Pirate Tales."

The library is also offering a reading incentive program this summer. Patrons who are not signed up yet can still register by picking up a reading log at the library's circulation desk. After reading for 15 minutes, school-age children are asked to color in a picture of a book on the reading log until they reach a certain level. "Each book on the log (represents) 15 minutes (of reading), and there are 24 books on each level," explained children's librarian Pam Mohl.

Youngsters who complete Level One will receive a token for the prize vending machine, two tickets to earn prizes and a water squirter. Those who complete Level Two will receive one token, two tickets and a free book. By completing Level Three, youngsters will receive one token, two tickets and a Summer Reading Program T-shirt.

The tickets that the youngsters earn will allow them to enter into a prize drawing. "There are different prizes they can earn. They can place their tickets in the cans (of the prizes they want to win)," Mohl said, noting that there are separate prizes for children, teenagers and adults. Prizes include gift cards to area grocery stores and restaurants and tickets to area attractions.

Participants must turn in their completed logs by Saturday, Aug. 19. Those who complete all three levels will be placed in a drawing for an e-reader.

The Village Library is located at 207 N. Walnut St., Morgantown. For more information, readers may contact Mohl at 610-286-1022 or visit


Summer Camps Scheduled July 3, 2017

In 2017, summer camps will be offered at the Lancaster County Environmental Center, 1 Nature's Way, Lancaster. There is a cost per camper, and preregistration is required.

Camps will include Times Gone By: Native American and Pioneer Life from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. from Monday, July 10, to Thursday, July 14, which is open to children age 8 and older. Wings and Things will be offered to children ages 6 to 9 from 9 a.m. to noon from Monday, July 31, to Friday, Aug. 4.

For details, including a full schedule of summer camps, and registration, readers may call 717-295-2055 or visit


Environmental Center Sets Events June 28, 2017

Governor Dick Environmental Center, 3283 Pinch Road, Mount Gretna, has posted two upcoming programs. Participants should meet at the Environmental Center. Programs are free unless stated otherwise, but preregistration is required. For more information or to register, readers should email or call 717-964-3808 and leave a name and phone number in case a program is canceled.

Summer Story Forest will be offered on Friday, July 7, at 10:30 a.m. The program blends a story book and the outdoors with activities for children ages 2 to 10. There is a fee to participate.

A penny hike will take place on Saturday, July 8, at 1:30 p.m. Throughout the hike, a coin flip will tell the group which direction to go. Attendees should bring water.


Global Fair Will Celebrate World Cultures June 28, 2017

Eastern Mennonite Missions (EMM) will host the 22nd annual Global Fair from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, July 15, at the 1719 Hans Herr House and Museum, 1849 Hans Herr Drive, Willow Street. The international festival will celebrate cultures and people from around the world through exhibits, food, animals, and more.

"Approximately 20 of our workers from around the world will set up displays," said Jessica Fellenger, EMM events coordinator. "It's a great way to learn about different countries and hear stories from other cultures. There's also a wonderful local presence of nonprofit organizations and churches."

Some of the countries to be represented will include Albania, Belize, Cambodia, Guatemala, Kenya, and Vietnam, as well as countries across the south, southeast, and central regions of Asia.

"Where else in southcentral Pennsylvania can you watch someone cook osh - a Central Asian rice dish - over a fire outdoors and enjoy a fresh plate of it?" Fellenger asked.

Attendees will also be able to purchase food prepared by local immigrants and refugees from Riversedge Mennonite Church, the Lao Fellowship of Harrisburg, the Upohar food truck, and local Spanish congregation El Buen Pastor, to name a few. Other options will include stroopies, which are caramel-filled Dutch waffle cookies, as well as yak jerky and ice cream.

Children may enjoy making crafts and playing games. "There will be a giant Jenga game and a water station that's especially fun in hot weather," Fellenger said. "A new treat this year is that the Mennonite Children's Choir of Lancaster will perform. And, of course, the always-popular alpacas will be there."

"Children are one of the big reasons we do this," said EMM president Nelson Okanya. "Our worldview expands when we learn about other cultures, countries, and religions. When we, and the next generation, understand those who are different from us, it results in tolerance and peace. Of course, hopefully the kids are having fun and not realizing they are really learning at the same time!"

Artwork will be available to purchase from two local artists: paintings by Ryan Sommers, who served as a teacher at the PROMESA school in Peru, and pottery by Assefa Haile, a former EMM staff member and a native of Ethiopia.

"I'm excited that Assefa plans to bring his potter's wheel and demonstrate throwing mugs," said Fellenger. "Pottery is an ancient art form with rich analogies to our lives. It's fascinating to watch a lump of clay become something useful."

Visitors to Global Fair may also enjoy the 1719 Hans Herr House and Museum and the grounds, including the Native American longhouse. Parking will be free of charge. Donations will be accepted for admission to Global Fair.

EMM is headquartered at 53 W. Brandt Blvd., Salunga. Its mission is to send personnel into the world with the transforming message of the Gospel as well as to catalyze mission engagement among congregations on the Eastern Seaboard of the United States. To learn more, readers may visit

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