A scholarship fund to memorialize Eddie Harrison Jr., a young Woodbine farmer and 4-H member who died in an auto accident in July, has drawn an unprecedented show of support from young people and bidders, who raised $32,322 through the auction of animals last month at the Carroll County 4-H/FFA Fair.
"We've never seen anything like this before, and we probably never will again," said Bob Shirley, retired Carroll County 4-H agent with the Maryland Cooperative Extension and a 4-H volunteer.
Charitable donations have always come out of the livestock auction, but they were usually no more than $5,000, Shirley said. 4-H members usually earn just enough from their sales to pay for the feed and purchase of animals to raise for the next fair.
"It does show the tremendous feeling that the 4-Hers all had for Eddie," Shirley said.
"They wanted to do something to keep his memory alive, and they did."
Harrison's family and friends were grieving when the fair opened, six days after Harrison, 19, died July 19.
He had been a car passenger in an accident that also killed Braden C. Mann, 19, of Westminster and injured two young women on Route 27 in Mount Airy on July 14.
The news shook the farm and 4-H communities. Harrison and his extended family were fixtures at the Carroll and state fairs, and in the Woodbine 4-H Club, which his aunt, Sue Harrison, leads.
A fourth-generation full-time farmer, Edward Ridgely Harrison Jr. had been raising a steer, a lamb and a pig to show and sell at the fair, the last one he would have been eligible for because of his age. He had been showing animals since he was 5.
After the accident, his sister, Jill, 15, resolved to show his animals with hers.
Friends such as Michael Harrison Jr., a distant cousin, organized to alert bidders that proceeds would go to a scholarship fund.
"Being so close to the fair, it was hard for everyone to get together and do, but it was the only thing we could do," said Michael Harrison, a sophomore at the University of Maryland, College Park, where he studies agricultural engineering.
"Everybody loved him."
At the livestock auction that closes the fair each year, Eddie Harrison's animals fetched record high prices and $23,630 toward the fund.
His steer brought $10.50 a pound; the market rate is usually about 68 cents, and most fair steers bring about $1 a pound. The grand champion steer, usually the one that sells for the highest price, got $4.20 a pound.
The high bidders were 60 families who pooled money to buy the 1,100-pound steer.
Eddie Harrison's 110-pound lamb got an unheard-of $100 a pound. A typical bid on a lamb at the fair is $2 a pound, and the market rate is about 83 cents.
Several businesses in Mount Airy shared resources to bid on the lamb. Condon's Nursery of Mount Airy paid $4.50 a pound for Harrison's 240-pound pig. The market value is about 35 cents.
Jill donated part of her animals' sales to the fund. Several of the 160 young people who sold livestock did the same, pledging $50 or $100 before the auction or a percentage of the sales to the fund. Michael Harrison donated half of the proceeds from the sale of one of his animals, as did another friend, Doug Flater of Mount Airy.
In all cases where the animals' owners pledged money for the scholarship fund, the bidders were informed, said Mary Ellen Arbaugh, a 4-H staff member at the extension service who keeps records on the sale.
4-Hers gave up some or all of their proceeds; the bidders bid extra high knowing the money would go to the fund; and some of the successful bidders resold the animals they bought and donated that money to the fund.
Of the $32,322 raised for the fund, about $28,000 came from the auction, Arbaugh said, and the rest came from "after sales." Instead of slaughtering the animals, the successful bidders took them to the open market to sell and donated those proceeds to the fund.
"It's astounding," Arbaugh said of the support. She said that when Jill was about to show one of Eddie's animals, other 4-Hers offered their help in grooming and caring for them.
"I think kids were standing in line to help," Arbaugh said. "There are a lot of really good, decent kids out there who would give their right arms to do something good, and this is just one way of doing it."
Gross sales at the auction set a record of $204,889, up from $133,000 last year.
Sue Harrison said the family has not had time to decide on the details of the scholarship but that it will probably go to a 4-H or Future Farmers of America graduating senior to use toward post-secondary education.
She said the rallying by the young people to get the fund started is gratifying to the family.
"They just wanted to make sure there was enough money in the scholarship fund to make it remain forever, and it looks like they did," she said.
Eddie Harrison's parents, Edward and Jayne, plan to establish a scholarship in his name at South Carroll High School, where he had played soccer, basketball and lacrosse.
That scholarship would be awarded to a soccer team member with notable determination, commitment and heart.
Pub Date: 9/10/99