4-H members hold auction fundraiser to benefit club programs

BOARDMAN — Each year, Douglas Moliterno derives great pleasure from showing several of his animals at the Canfield Fair, though perhaps the highest reward comes from what can’t be seen, shown or fed.

“My friends,” Moliterno, 19, of Canfield, said when asked what he enjoys about his time at the annual fair besides showing his American pygmy goat, llama and pig.

For those and other reasons, Moliterno, who is on the autism spectrum, relishes being a 4-H member. That was clearly abundant by the purple sash he wore that says “Mahoning County Junior Fair Royalty” to Saturday evening’s Mahoning County 4-H Endowment dinner and auction at Mr. Anthony’s Banquet Center, 7440 South Ave.

The event featured a silent and live auction, the proceeds of which were to benefit the endowment fund, set up to ensure Mahoning County youth have the opportunity to experience being at state and national 4-H camps. In addition, the fund goes toward training volunteers, buying educational supplies, promoting 4-H countywide and other offerings.

The evening featured 146 donated items that were set up for the silent auction that preceded the live auction for which 15 high-end items were up for bids, Beth Smith, the county’s 4-H educator, said.

The silent auction featured merchandise that included two admission tickets to King’s Island amusement park near Cincinnati, a one-year free membership to Paws Town Dog Park in Boardman Park, a $25 gift card to Pettiti Garden Center, Cleveland Cavaliers memorabilia, a pair of tickets to the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium, hand-painted crocks depicting the 145th and 148th annual Canfield Fair, a green 4-H wreath and gift certificates in various denominations to many area restaurants.

George Roman, who runs George Roman Auctioneers Ltd., conducted the live auction on the 15 items up for bids, the starting values of which ranged from $135 to $1,250. Among them were a live-edge hand-crafted maple table, a 2024 Canfield Fair basket with fair-related items and a chainsaw with an 18-inch bar.

Everything 4-H runs deep in the life of Kathleen Houk of Poland, who was 4-H queen in 1971, along with her daughter, Annie Moore of Canfield, and other family members.

Besides providing fun opportunities to show animals at the fair and take home ribbons, 4-H clubs offer a blueprint for members to take away lifelong valuable lessons such as developing a strong work ethic, collaborating well with others and personal responsibility, Houk noted.

“They’re taught that once you start a project, you have to follow through,” she said, adding that 4-H also is a parent-oriented organization in which they’re encouraged to provide necessary guidance to their children.

Contrary to some people’s perceptions that 4-H clubs are mainly in suburbs, the longtime organization also spearheads projects in inner cities. Those include teaching members to properly hatch eggs, plant and care for urban gardens and see the value in maintaining a good diet, Moore, who is part of a three-generation 4-H family, noted.

“We want to teach them to eat other things other than what comes in a box,” she said.

Moore added that her two oldest sons and daughter also were brought up under the 4-H umbrella.

To be in 4-H, a child has to be at least age 8 and in third grade, though youngsters 5 to 8 can join as cloverbuds. They participate in and learn age-appropriate skills and lessons such as sharing, healthy living and the value of recycling, while attending hands-on meetings, said Moore, who is a cloverbud adviser.

Another valuable aspect of 4-H clubs is that they welcome kids who have special needs. In addition, members learn to accept that it’s OK to not always come out on top, she added.

“They are taught how to be gracious winners and gracious losers,” Moore continued.

Suffice it to say that 4-H has instilled those and other positive traits in Douglas Moliterno while helping him develop stronger language and communication skills, as well as spreading joy to others, his father, Jeff Moliterno, said.

“I’m very proud of what he’s done in 4-H,” the elder Moliterno added. “It’s taught him how to interact with people and be responsive with his animals. It’s helped him in more ways than I can count.”

Douglas Moliterno has had his goat since he was 9, and he shows a pig at the fair each year before the animal is sold at the fair auction. Last year, he ran a llama through an obstacle course at the fair, for which he took home a second-place finish in his division, Douglas’ father said.

Have an interesting story? Email the newsroom at news@vindy.com.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $2.99/week.

Subscribe Today