Seamstress Jolene Bomgardner, Agricultural Show Attaché, Showcases Various 4-H Skills | News


Eighteen-year-old Jolene Bomgardner, of North Lebanon Township, Lebanon County, Pa., Will age out of 4-H later this year, but not before the Pennsylvania Farm Show features two diverse skill sets that ‘she acquired during her 4-H’er tenure.

Jolene is exhibiting a three-piece woolen ensemble that she sewed, which has already received top state honors in the 2021 Make It With Wool competition. She is also part of a team of three potato judges. 4-H representing Lebanon County.

A member of the Lebanon County 4-H Friends Club since 2013, Jolene rose through her club’s ranks to become its secretary, before serving two years as vice-president. Most recently, she spent her final 4-H year leading the club as president.

The 4-H Friends club is a group of 75 young people aged 5 to 18, who can choose from a wide variety of project topics that interest them. In Jolene’s case, her projects have focused on sewing and also an outgrowth of the 4-H Science of Agriculture Challenge project that she and two friends started four years ago.

Jolene, daughter of Jere and Joanne Bomgardner, is in her final year at the New Covenant School in Lebanon, where her leadership skills led her to be selected as her class vice-president in grade nine and then serve as president. class during its second year, junior and senior years. Jolene said that, given her busy schedule, she was debating giving up her class officer role this year, but before she got a chance, she was unanimously re-elected to another presidential term.

And she has a busy schedule. Jolene is the captain of her school’s volleyball team, plays the flute in the school orchestra, and is a pianist accompanist at St. Jacob’s Kimmerlings Church, where her family attends. In addition, she treats Holsteins daily on two different dairy farms. In the mornings before school, Jolene is milking at Justin and Renee Trautman’s Myerstown farm, who are also the parents of her best friend, Evelyn. In the evening, Jolene travels to North Annville Township, where she processes and feeds calves for Dale and Kynel Bomgardner Himmelberger; Kynel, a former dairy princess from County of Lebanon, is her aunt.

Somehow, Jolene always takes the time to do one of her favorite things – working on sewing projects. She traces this interest back to childhood and to her maternal grandmother, the late Beatrice Weidman. Among the things they worked on together was some pajamas that Jolene in second year had wanted to make for her mother’s birthday present. Grandma Weidman did most of the work, Jolene recalls, because at the age of 7, her attention span made it difficult to focus on this ambitious job.

Fortunately, by the time she joined 4-H three years later, Jolene was more ready to learn sewing. His first 4-H sewing project, an apron, was the start of a learning curve that led him to tackle increasingly complicated seams. Under the mentorship of 4-H Friends Club sewing leaders, accomplished seamstresses Maureen Light and Linda Siegel, Jolene was finally able to undertake what she now calls her favorite sewing effort – a long, wine-colored jersey dress. topped with a denim jacket.

Jolene calls this outfit her favorite because it reflects her personality and sense of style, and is also quite versatile. He impressed the judges at the Lebanon region fair 2019, where Jolene won the best show with. She then entered her into a contest sponsored by The Old Country Store and Hinkletown Sewing Machine Shop in Lancaster County. There she placed first in her age and clothing type category and won Best of Show, with a Bernina sewing machine as the prize.

Prior to that, Jolene had sewn on a small Kenmore sewing machine received from a lady in her downsizing church. It arrived in a box that had once held bananas, but it did the job for Jolene’s early dressmaking efforts.

Today, this Kenmore is part of what his father jokingly calls Jolene’s “Sewing Museum”. Her collection includes Grandma Weidman’s old Singer machine, as well as the household pedal sewing machine dating from around 1880 that belonged to her great-grandmother, Maude Bachman.

Jolene found her new sewing machine useful for the 4-H 2020-2021 sewing project which involved both new skills and a fabric she had never worked with before. Under Siegel’s guidance and encouragement, Jolene branched out from denim, knits and cottons, and moved on to sewing with wool. She opted for a sporty three-piece set using a Butterick skirt pattern she had bought for 50 cents at a thrift store. She created the skirt using a bird tweed fabric. Her wool-knit blouse and Melton-coated wool jacket were made from McCall’s designs.

The varsity-style jacket was inspired by Jolene’s lettering in volleyball in the ninth grade. When she looked for a varsity jacket to put her letters “NC” on, she discovered that these jackets could cost up to $ 400. Sewing with wool gave Jolene the perfect opportunity to make a jacket reminiscent of the one her father wore to showcase his athletics and wrestling letters while a high school student in North Lebanon.

Jolene sums up her first experience in sewing woolen fabric like this. “I liked working with wool, but I didn’t like the lining. The wool does not slip when you work on it. It stays in place, but the fabric of the lining makes up for it.

Nonetheless, Jolene rose to the challenge and even added distinctive touches like hand-sewn letters and welt pockets on the jacket.

Jolene thrived on learning these advanced sewing skills and won first place in the senior division of Pennsylvania’s Make It With Wool competition in October. This award earned Jolene the right to participate in this year’s national Make It With Wool contest in San Diego, Jan. 20-22. Jolene, who will be accompanied by her parents there, is already a seasoned traveler, having made two missionary trips to Lithuania, to help build a camp.

In addition to the 4-H sewing projects, in 2018 Jolene and two 4-H colleagues undertook the Science of Agriculture Challenge project and founded the first Lebanon County 4-H team in 30 years to compete in the judgment of potatoes. It was a natural fit for Jolene, whose family grows their own potatoes, especially Kennebecs. Jolene’s mother, Joanne, as well as Martha Gregory and Renee Troutman, are the team’s advisors.

What is a good potato? “Just a nice, easy-to-peel potato that a consumer will find appealing,” Jolene said. The Potato Judging at The Farm Show includes this and more. This is a timed event that involves selecting Grade A potatoes from a group of 100 potatoes, as well as identifying potatoes with defects, such as air cracks, cracks growth and skin lesions, using a list of 22 common potato defects. Jolene and her team will not be judging the Farm Show potato entrees; instead, they will be judged on their own expertise in valuing potatoes.

When Jolene has free time, you will find her reading, cross stitching, or working on her final year album. As for what her future holds, Jolene plans to return to one of her favorite places, the Miracle Mountain Ranch in Spring Creek, Pa., To complete a year-long program at her discipleship school.


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