by Kate Ewer, 4-H Community Educator
JAMESTOWN, NY — Cornell Cooperative Extension of Chautauqua County’s 4-H Youth Development Program often refers to the more than 300 youth who participate in yearlong programming a “4-H Family.” For the Styers Family, 4-H helped to grow their own family. Ken Styers, 4-H alumnus and longtime 4-H’er, shares his family’s unique experience in 4-H. 4-H would like to thank the Styers family for contributing this article and for their dedication to 4-H youth in our county.
4-H is an amazing adventure. For some participants, it is an experience enjoyed during their youth. For others, it reaches past the years of their youth and they give back to their clubs, community, their country, and their world through volunteering as leaders and educators. For some families 4-H has helped build a dynasty. This has been the case for one unique Chautauqua County 4-H family. Ken Styers and Helen Dame started dating in 1983 while Ken was in 4-H, they became Mr. and Mrs. Styers on June 7, 1986. Ken’s job moved them to Niagara County.
Ken and Helen began seeing their dreams come true on July 21, 1989 when Brianna was born and then Cody was born on Feb. 28, 1992. As their children grew, so did the desire to return to Chautauqua County. Ken, an alumnus 4-H beef and lamb exhibitor, always dreamed of sharing the 4-H experience with his children. Helen grew up on a small farm in Panama and always dreamed of returning to Chautauqua County to raise her children.
In August of 1994 Ken and Helen bought their farm in Clymer, NY. As Brianna grew older she found Ken’s packed away ribbons, banners and trophies. She told her parents she wanted to have ribbons of her own. This was the springboard for the Styers children. Brianna joined 4-H and Helen became a club leader. After their youngest was born Helen joined Ken on the hog committee. Brianna dedicated her high school career to showing hogs and participating as a Junior Superintendent in the hog barn at the Chautauqua County Fair for five years. Brianna enjoyed showing hogs at county, state and national shows. Her 4-H experience was taken to the next level the night her long time 4-H friend and fellow junior superintendent, Brad Minor proposed. Brad works for Clymer Township and Brianna is an LPN. They own a home in Clymer.
Cody’s path in 4-H was equally exciting as Brianna’s. He participated in county, regional and national swine shows. Cody also raised his own 4-H calves from his small herd of cows that started with two Charolais heifers. Cody’s 4-H career was further defined when he proposed to long time 4-H friend, and junior superintendent in the hog barn, Beth Paterniti. Beth is a science teacher and Cody is a HVAC technician and property manager. They live in Panama.
Madison was born on Nov. 17, 1998 and went to her first fair when she was eight months old. She followed her sister’s footsteps and became an amazing spokesperson for the 4-H hog project. She worked with the adult superintendents as a junior superintendent at the county fair in the hog barn for seven years. Her work ethics awarded her junior superintendent herdsman awards, showmanship awards and high market placings throughout her career. One of the earliest pictures of Maddie on the fairgrounds was in a stroller with Logan Fain. These two grew up through 4-H together showing animals. It was no surprise the day Logan asked Ken and Helen if he could propose to Maddie. Maddie is an LPN and lives at home in Clymer with Ken and Helen. Logan is in college and hopes to get a degree in education and lives at home in Bemus Point.
Ken and Helen are proud of their children and 4-H. They laugh about the “match making organization” that 4-H unexpectedly became for their family. Ken and Helen have served as 4-H leaders and animal science educators for 20 years and have no plans of retiring from their duties any time soon. They believe in the hard work and ethics that 4-H teaches. Ken and Helen are proud of the mark the Styers, Minor, Paterniti, and Fain family have left on Chautauqua County 4-H. They are excited to see what the next chapter in 4-H brings to their family.
The Styers’ would like to honor the following people for their contribution to 4-H that helped build this 4-H dynasty:
For more information, call 716.664.9502 or visit our website at www.cce.cornell.edu/chautauqua.