A fantastic dinner and a memorable, almost magical, mental exhibition by Ross the Mentalist set the stage for the annual Monroe County Extension's review of the past year's accomplishments and the hope for the year to come.

"How did he do that?" was often the question as Ross, who is legally blind, had the right answer to what symbol a guest had picked, or what number another had chosen as he presented his program at Shawnee Inn, where the dinner was held.

Extension staff and volunteers executed the work that has been done the past year, as summarized in the annual report available to all guests, and many were recognized for milestones in that work. That report looked at all areas of the new 4-County Pocono District, served by Nancy Grotevant as director.

Among the Extension Board honorees were two members, Dr. Doug Arnold, who has served as president of the Extension board and thus had Emcee duties, and John Burrus, both West Enders. Each has served two 2-year consecutive terms and so must leave the board at this time until eligible again.

"Board members are all volunteers," explained Rick Hackett, a fellow board member, who presented a gift by to each one and presided over the election of new board members.

"The rewards are intrinsic," said Hackett of the volunteers' service. Nominated to serve on the next board, along with the remaining members, were Ellen Davis, Ray Flad, Ed Flory, Maria Lohman, Mike Silvoy and Bonnie Vogt.

Janet Johnson of Brodheadsville, the 4-H Program Advisory Committee president, explained the responsibilities of that group and oversaw the election of PAC board members. Holly Corcoran and Duane Hubbard, both from Effort, have completed their second 3-year terms and must leave the board. Elected to fill open board positions were Claudia Hill, Saylorsburg; Sandy Haley, Cresco; Kelsey Beehler, Long Pond; and Vivian Kloss.

Lacy Warner, 4-H'er, will serve as teen representative.

Sherri Abruzzi, 4-H Program educator, recognized 4-H leaders for their service and the economic impact that service has.

Among those recognized were Heather Hause, Saylorsburg; Janet Johnson, Saylorsburg; Jen Kresge, Saylorsburg; Claudia Hill, Saylorsburg; Gretchen Pettit, Kunkletown; Dora Arnold, Brodheadsville; Dwayne Hubbard, Effort; Maria Riley, Long Pond; Lynn Strunk, Stroudsburg; Joy Patterson, Canadensis; Kim Komala, Aquashicola; and Eileen Pasquin, East Stroudsburg.

Pasquin was honored for 17 years of service and Joy Patterson for 15, while others were recognized for their first year, including those who have come back to serve for a second time around.

Lacey Warner read the essay in which she nominated her leader Lynn Strunk for the 2012 Special Leader Award. She called the horse club leader the "energizer bunny," as she detailed all the things Strunk does with and for her family, her 4-H club and her community, including hosting an exchange student for one month each year.

Also honored were the Master Gardener volunteers who had reached certain milestones of 150 hours of volunteer time or 250 hours of volunteer time-Janice Robins of Sciota, Marilyn Baughman of Saylorsburg and Heather Hause of Saylorsburg, and one Master Gardener who reached 500 hours of volunteer time, Jeanne Dustane of East Stroudsburg.

Stephen Hughes, Community Issues/Ag Enterprise explained his programs including his work at the West End Fair; teaching backyard chicken enthusiasts the basics of having a flock of their own; starting a poultry 4-H club, with the youngsters choosing the name of the club, "Sunny Side Up."

He recognized some considerable help he has gotten from a Canadensis couple, Debbie Ciccone and Harry Fox, and presented them with a certificate of appreciation.

Staff members, both current and two retirees were recognized, as was Paula Schwenk of Effort, who has reached the milestone of five years as secretary in the Monroe Office. Keri Byrne of Jonas, the new Nutrition Education Advisor, was introduced to the group and office Manager Joyce Billeck, who is retiring in January 2013, was recognized for her years of service.

These persons embody the last words in a saying found in the evening's program-author unknown: "If you want to touch the past, touch a rock. If you want to touch the present, touch a flower. If you want to touch the future, touch a life."

Both the staff and the volunteers have, and are, touching lives.