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Cooperative Extension honors friends

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 3 December 2014 at 12:00 am

First ‘Legacy Awards’ presented to duo who make chicken barbecue a success

Photos by Tom Rivers – Barb Lehning of Holley has volunteered with the chicken barbecue at the 4-H Fair for 30 years, helping serve 1,250 meals at the events. She was presented with a Legacy Award on Tuesday. Kim Hazel, left, was credited by Lehning for helping to organize the big meal.

KNOWLESVILLE – Joan Roberts and Barb Lehning say preparing and serving 1,250 chicken dinners at the fair is a lot of fun.

But it’s also a lot of work, Cornell Cooperative Extension officials said, and they wanted to recognize the two ladies for their years of commitment to making the chicken barbecue dinner such a success.

Both Roberts and Lehning on Tuesday were presented with the first “Legacy Awards” by the Extension. The awards recognize people for many years of service and commitment to the Extension.

Joan Roberts of Medina has helped prepare the meals for 60 years. She received a Legacy Award for her efforts to support the Extension. She is pictured next to Extension board chairman Ed Neal.

Roberts of Medina volunteered for 60 years in preparing the chicken barbecues. Her husband Orren has been right there with her at the fair. Their four kids were in 4-H, and one son built the racks used to cook the chickens for an Eagle Scout project.

“It’s been a part of our life,” Roberts said.

Lehning was asked about 30 years ago to help organize the serving team. She remembers when the event peaked at 1,600 dinners. The 1,250 meals at more recent fairs keeps the serving line busy.

“It’s a fun day,” she said. “I like working with all of the people.”

Roberts and Lehning both said much of the event’s success goes to Kim Hazel, an administrative assistant at the Extension who helps organize the big dinner.

“We could not imagine a fair without the chicken barbecue or the chicken barbecue without Joan and Barb,” said Ed Neal, the Extension board president. “They have been a wonderful team who has built a legacy of community service and fellowship for future generations.”

Provided photo – Cornell Cooperative Extension officials presented the “Friend of Extension” to Orleans Hub editor Tom Rivers, center. He is pictured with Jennifer Wagester, the executive director, and Ed Neal, chairman of the board.

The Extension also recognized Tom Rivers, editor of the Orleans Hub, with the “Friend of the Extension” award. Jennifer Wagester, the Extension executive director, said the agency tends to be the best-kept secret in Orleans County.

But the Orleans Hub has changed that by telling the Extension story.

“In photos, Tom has shown our community the smiles of our 4-H youth and the excitement of the county fair,” Wagester told about 75 people during the Extension annual meeting. “In words, he has shared our success stories and our financial challenges.”

The agency also recognized Alice and Merri Mathes as 4-H club leaders of the year and presented the Friend of the Master Gardeners award to Eileen Sorochty for tending the gardens at the Cobblestone Museum and for taking the Master Gardener course.

The following were elected to the Extension board of directors: Erin Anheier of Clarendon, Vincent Flow of Kendall, Kathy Harling of Albion, Pete Toenniessen of Albion and Michael Zelazny of Medina.

Photo by Tom Rivers – Jayne Bannister, the Niagara-Orleans dairy princess, addresses the crowd at the Trolley Building at the 4-H Fairgrounds. She also served milk punch at the Extension annual meeting.