The Wyoming County Government Center is “turning green” for the month of March to celebrate the Girl Scouts, the 4-H program and cookie sales, and Wyoming County’s biggest producer – agriculture.
While the color green is most often associated with Saint Patrick’s Day when March rolls around, these organizations allude to the “luck of the Irish” as well. Subsequently, the Wyoming County Board of Supervisors has proclaimed March 2017 to be Girl Scout and Agriculture month – March 21 is National Agriculture Day and March 12 signifies the inception of the first Girl Scout troop in the United States.
This month, the Girl Scouts celebrate not only 105 years as an organization but also 100 years of their most successful fundraising program – the annual cookie sale.
The Girl Scout program was founded by Juliette Gordon “Daisy” Low, with the help of Sir Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the Scouting movement. Low believed in the power of every girl.
Low had joined the Girl Guide movement while in Scotland and in 1911 formed a group of Girl Guides while there. When she returned to the United States in 1912, she established the first American Girl Guide troop in Savannah, Ga.
It wasn’t until 1915 that the United States’ Girl Guides became known as the Girl Scouts.
Modeling the program after the Boy Scouts, she was inspired by its stress of military preparedness and having fun, she encouraged the girls to become self-sufficient.
While in Scotland, the group learned how to spin wool and care for livestock. She also taught them knot tying, map reading, kitting cooking and first aid. With the help of her friends in the military the girls also learned drilling, signaling and camping.
When she brought the program to the United States, she spread the movement as a way to help girls learn practical skills and build character.
Although Low died in Savannah on Jan. 17, 1927, her vision lives on in the 1.9 million girls and 800,000 volunteer that continue the Girl Scouts worldwide.
The 4-H programs are based in science, healthy living and citizenship. It is backed by a network of 100 public universities and a community of 4-H volunteers and professionals.
Through hands-on learning, youth build not only confidence, creativity and curiosity, but also life skills such as leadership and resiliency.
Grounded in the belief that kids learn best by doing for more than 100 years, 4-H has become the nation’s largest youth development organization.
In the late 1800s, researchers noticed that young people were more open to new thinking in agricultural practices than their adult counterparts. In this way, it was the younger generations that introduced new agriculture technology to communities.
Today, 4-H’ers tackle issues such as global food security, climate change, as well as animal sciences, robotics, environmental protection and computer science to take on the challenges of the 21st century.
The program empowers the youngsters to be well-informed citizens who are actively engaged in their communities.
The month of March also signifies the start of its annual cookie sale. From March 7 through 21, cookies will be on sale.
“This is Wyoming County’s annual fundraiser that helps support programming in the county,” said 4-H educator Holly Harwood. “Proceeds from the sale allow youth to earn camperships at Wyomoco supports educational opportunities throughout the year, supports supplemental project and teaching materials, scholarships and more.”
Harwood says its these opportunities allow the youth to travel outside the county and the state to see the different careers available to them in agriculture, as well as meet other kids who are of similar mindset. It also allows kids to “build friendships that last a lifetime.”
And of course, one cannot travel about in Wyoming County without taking note of the rolling hills dotted with cows, corn, and other crops. These crops make the county number one in the production of milk, potatoes, hay, honey, and corn silage in New York State.
The county boasts 1.1 billion pounds of milk produced annually – 129.5 million gallons, 713 farms and 230,000 acres of cultivated farmland. The greens and golds of the county’s landscape is in large part due to 60 percent of its land being dedicated to farming.
The economic vitality of Wyoming County is dependent on the food and fiber products agriculture plays a role in. Additionally, the county’s strong agribusiness ensures the maintenance of a strong economy.