Broome County 4-H leader turns family tradition into her ‘passion’

Being a 4-H member is a family affair for Ann Supa of Maine Town.

Supa, her father and her four now adult children were all members of 4-H, she said.

“It’s like a family tradition,” she says.

For the past 25 years, Supa has volunteered with 4-H, Cornell Cooperative Extension’s youth development program. She started volunteering in Tioga County and now volunteers with the Broome County program.

“It keeps me young,” she said of volunteering with her 4-H clubs. “I learn with them.”

She grew up on a dairy farm in Nichols and was active in 4-H there. She has fond memories of showing cows at the fair, baking and sewing.

“I wanted my kids to have the same 4-H experience I did,” she said.

So she became a 4-H leader in Tioga County and later moved to Broome County. She is a 4-H leader for two groups: Mild Duds for young people raising dairy cows; and Leaps and Peeps, for those interested in raising poultry and rabbits. She also works with Broome County Dairy Promotion to promote agriculture and milk in schools and other county locations, and coaches the 4-H dairy bowl team. The dairy bowl is similar to a college quiz bowl, but all questions are about the dairy industry, she said.

“They learn to work as a team,” she said of the dairy bowl team. “It just builds those friendships.”

Supa goes beyond what a 4-H leader is supposed to do, said Linnea Matson, 4-H program manager for Cornell Cooperative Extension of Broome County. She will drive the kids to the Broome County Fair so they can show off their animals there. She will help club members load cows, chickens and other animals into trailers for the trip to the fair.

“She’s really there for our kids,” Matson said of Supa. “She loves working with children. She teaches them everything she knows.

Members of her club can’t wait to see her, Matson said.

“All of his kids love our program,” she said of Supa. “She brings so much fun and so much fun. It’s her passion. She really gives it her all.”

Supa said she enjoys helping her young proteges, she said.

“I consider all of my 4-H kids to be part of my family,” she said.

She has known some of her club members since they were in kindergarten. She has seen former club members graduate from high school and college, she said.

She enjoys helping her 4-H club members engage in hands-on learning, she says.

“When I taught cheese, I made mozzarella cheese with them,” she said. “They have a better understanding. They did it. They know what it is. I think children learn better if they experience it.

For Supa, volunteering is something passed down to her from her family members.

“It was part of my growing up – volunteering,” she said. “You are part of a community. It’s not just you.

She encouraged others to get involved in volunteering.

“A lot of people are hesitant to volunteer,” she said. “They just have to share their passion.”

Ann Supa

Hometown: Nicholas.

House: Town in Maine.

Family: Husband, Steve; four adult children, six grandchildren.

Career: Nutrition Educator for Cornell Cooperative Extension of Broome County. Her work with the 4-H program, which is separate from the nutrition program, is completely voluntary.

How to help: If you have a skill you can teach or are interested in becoming a 4-H leader or volunteering in some other way, contact Linnea Mattson by email: [email protected] or by phone at 607-772-8953.

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