GLEN ROCK, Pa. — What do cakes, pies, casseroles and breads have in common with pursuing a college degree?
As strange as it may sound, recipes and advanced education are inseparably entwined in the Pennsylvania Society of Farm Women’s scholarship program. Since its inception in 1960, the state’s Society of Farm Women has awarded more than 260 educational grants worth nearly $165,000 to members’ children and grandchildren pursuing higher education in the areas of home management and agriculture, with much of the funding generated by cookbook sales.
Originally called the Flora Black Memorial Scholarship Fund because it was named after the statewide founder of the Society of Farm Women, the fund was established in 1960 to benefit the children or grandchildren of members, living or deceased, of the Pennsylvania Society of Farm Women. Originally, scholarships were awarded to deserving students pursuing degrees in home economics and were funded by 10-cent donations made by members when they renewed their annual dues.
The cookbook effort to fund scholarships began when Naomi Bupp, York County Society 11 member and 1987-1988 Pennsylvania Farm Women president, took on the compilation of a cookbook of favorite recipes of the state’s hundreds of members as her leadership project. One requirement for each recipe submitted was that it had to include a Pennyslvania product or commodity. Scattered throughout the cookbook are dozens of original sketches by York County artist Don Abbot Thomas, whose wife was a Society of Farm Women member, as well as numerous bits of wit and wisdom, adding to its uniqueness and charm.
The finished cookbooks were unveiled at the 1991 Spring Rally, held in Berks County, and sales skyrocketed almost overnight, with the cookbook becoming the sole fundraiser for the scholarship program.
Although early records of cookbook orders are a bit incomplete, current scholarship chairman Treva Stiles calculates that well over 26,000 — and possibly close to 30,000 — of the books have been sold across Pennsylvania, the nation, and even sent overseas. As cookbook sales grew and the scholarship fund became larger, college costs also escalated, so awards to recipients increased from the early level of $250 to the more recent $1,000 grants.
“Three $1,000 scholarships have been awarded to this year’s recipients, Sarah Innerst, Amanda Hoffman and Ryan Fisher,” said Stiles, of Glen Rock, Pa., and also the state Society of Farm Women director.
Sarah Innerst is the daughter of Dean and Becky Innerst, Red Lion, Pa. Sarah is majoring in dairy science at Delaware Valley College, where she is active in the Del Val dairy club, FFA and the Farm Bureau. She also remains an active youth member of the Codorus Church of the Brethren. Sarah’s grandmother is a member of Society 11 of York County.
Recipient Amanda Hoffman is the daughter of Wayne and Jean Hoffman, Dover, Pa. She is a biology major at York College, with plans to pursue a large animal veterinarian degree at the University of Pennsylvania. Amanda is participating in several research activities, including a field project involving Canada goose behavior, caged rabbit feeding trials and feeding behavior in turtles. She, her mother and grandmother are all members of Society 4 of York County.
Ryan K. Fisher is the son of Randy and Wendy Fisher, Bethel, Pa. He is a student at the Pennsylvania College of Technology, majoring in electronics and computer engineering, with an emphasis on agriculture robotics and automation. He hopes to pursue a career related to agriculture robotics and the development of new equipment for the farming industry. Ryan’s grandmother is a member of Society 2 of Berks County.
Like the more than 260 students before them, this year’s recipients are receiving their educational aid as a result of a long-running Pennsylvania Society of Farm Women scholarship program funded for many years by the sales of their popular and unique cookbook.
Cookbook income continues to fund the scholarship program, and the two-inch-thick, 8-1/2-by-11-inch soft-cover books are still available for the cost of $25. For more information, or to order a cookbook, contact Treva Stiles, 10862 Mt. Zion Road, Glen Rock, PA 17327; phone 717-235-1132.
Editor’s Note: Naomi Bupp is the mother-in-law of the author.