Merrill 4-H group, the Pesobic Pathfinders, win grand prize in annual Cedar Crest Ice Cream Flavor Creation Contest

The members of the Pesobic Pathfinders 4-H Club in Merrill were all smiles when they found out they won the Grand Prize in the 2024 Cedar Crest Ice Cream Flavor Creation Contest. Tina L. Scott photo.


A small Merrill-area 4-H club, the Pesobic Pathfinders, learned as a group at their meeting the evening of Tuesday, March 5, 2024, that they had won the grand prize in the annual Cedar Crest Ice Cream Flavor Creation Contest. Despite Facebook publicity, the parents and group leader Ann Jaroski were pretty successful in keeping the news under wraps as they waited for the club’s President, Abby Breitenmoser, to return from a recent trip to Switzerland. The winners were actually publicly announced on Feb. 2, 2024, via a joint press release from Cedar Crest Ice Cream of Cedarburg, Wis., and the Wisconsin 4-H Foundation, but Jaroski really wanted all the club members to learn the news together. “We found out in early February,” Jaroski said. “It’s been very hard to keep it all a secret, because I see many of the kids on a regular basis.”
As soon as Abby got back, Jaroski set the meeting and Abby made the announcement to the small group of club members gathered in the Jaroski living room and some additional kids and parents who were there to “try out” 4-H and learn more about their group.
The Pesobic Pathfinders is very kid-focused and youth-led, Jaroski said. “Our group is very small, eight members currently but with a couple families looking to join if our schedules are compatible,” she said. “Our youngest member is 11 and our oldest is 18.”
“We held elections a few months ago and our current President is Abby Breitenmoser, Vice President is Johanna Dahlke, Secretary is Eva Jaroski, and Entertainment/Activities Coordinator is Hope Erath.” Other current members include Charlie Breitenmoser, Calvin Breitenmoser, Lilah Breitenmoser, and Faith Erath.
“I work with our President (Abby) to discuss the meeting agenda and to verify the date, time, and location of the next meeting,” Jaroski said. “We create the agenda together and discuss what our activity for the meeting will be (created by Hope). If there is information about upcoming events, camps, trips, etc., Abby informs the group and, if members need specific information, she directs them to me for further details.”
Jaroski said the kids in their group like to be active with less meeting time, so “our meetings are brief, and then it’s playtime. … It is a pretty laid back group. We like it.”
“We make decisions as a group,” she said. They are less formal than some meetings and their small group size allows for flexibility and maximum input from every member.

Making the announcement

The club’s Tuesday-night meeting started with the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag and the 4-H pledge: “I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service, and my health to better living for my club, my community, my country, and my world.” Then they took care of some old business.
Finally, it was time for new business and Abby announced: “We have a letter that came to us,” she said. “So I’ll read it:
Dear Pesobic Pathfinders, With great pride, I am writing to notify you that your club was named the winner of the Cedar Crest Ice Cream Flavor Contest. Woo! This year was an extremely competitive year. Your flavor, Paul Bunyan, topped them all and will be produced by Cedar Crest for the 2024 summer season. Your club’s winning flavor will be one of Cedar Crest’s feature flavors of the month of July and will be available in ice cream parlors and scoop shops all across the state and beyond. With your placing, your club has won $500 – and the check is enclosed – and will receive three-gallon tubs of your ice cream …
The club will receive two three-gallon tubs of their Paul Bunyan flavor to be exact.
The announcement that their Paul Bunyan flavor had won the grand prize was met with a cheer from the kids in the club, and once the excitement died down, they immediately set to work making decisions as a club. They began discussions on when and where to have their ice cream party.
Of course, they started discussing what they wanted to do with the prize money.
Club President Abby suggested donating some of the winnings to a charitable cause. “But 4-H is all about community, right? It’s all about giving back,” she said. “And $500 is a handsome amount. So what if we did a 10 percent donation to something in our community to channel the 4-H spirit … you know? … Since 4-H is how we got this money, because of community and all that jazz, giving back … I mean, it kind of seems appropriate.”
The club members held a discussion about possible recipients of the donation and then decided to table that actual decision. But the Pesobic Pathfinders 4-H Club members did vote unanimously to donate 10% of their winnings back into the community. They will continue to explore ideas of where they want to donate those funds and for what purpose.
Then it was on to a lively discussion of what to do with the other $450. A high ropes course, trampoline park, escape room, renting an Airbnb with a lake and hanging out together as a group, airsoft, an awesome movie night, going to a theatre like the Grand to see a play or a film or show, getting all dressed up, incorporating a potluck picnic or ordering food to accompany whatever event they decide … all were considered and ultimately, the group decided they didn’t need to decide right away. They could explore their options and decide at another meeting.
When the meeting’s business wrapped up, Jaroski made another announcement: “So our snack for tonight then, is we’re going to try to recreate what you guys created with just Cedar Crest vanilla ice cream and maple syrup and chocolate covered pretzels.” The meeting quickly adjourned and the kids were off to the kitchen.

Coming up with the winning flavor idea

Jaroski explained a bit more about how the club came up with their winning flavor idea.
“We [originally] learned about the contest through our monthly newsletter put out by the UW Extension 4-H Office,” she said. “It looked like a great idea, so I brought it to the attention of our elected Pesobic President, Abby Breitenmoser.”
“The kids weren’t sure they could compete, so we shelved the idea for awhile,” Jaroski said. “My daughter, Eva, and I would write down our ideas whenever we thought of something and kept it in the 4-H notebook. By the time our next meeting rolled around, we had lots of ideas to share with the group as a launch pad to fully formulate a new delicious flavor.”
“I was promoting that we try this contest, because I know these kids, and they know their way around a kitchen,” she said. “During COVID, our group had to quarantine. We met monthly over Zoom, and the acting President at that time – a young man who has since graduated out of the program – he and I met to discuss how to remain active and in each others’ lives. I offered the idea of creating clubs within our group. I suggested a few, the kids met over Zoom to vote on them, and thus our Entertainment Coordinator position was created.”
“One of the clubs voted on by our members was a cooking club within our group,” Jaroski said. “Each month the members voted on whether to cook an entree or bake a dessert or snack or use a particular ingredient. Then members would send photos to our President at that time and he would post them during our meeting, and each chef would share their experience cooking or baking that month.”
“Having done a cooking club for a year or more, I knew they had skills and a vocabulary to speak about flavors, textures, and promoting their ideas!” she said.
“When we were brainstorming the flavors and title ideas for the ice cream,” Jaroski said, “we talked about not adding too many ingredients so that we do not muddy the water. Let each flavor stand alone and enhance the other without getting lost in the mix.”
“The Pesobic Pathfinders’ winning flavor, named Paul Bunyan, features vanilla bean ice cream with double-dipped pretzel ‘logs,’ maple syrup, and swirls of Butterfinger ‘sawdust,’” the press release from Cedar Crest and the Wisconsin 4-H Foundation announced.
The flavor ideas were developed out of the experiences of the youth members.
“A few of our members tap maple trees for syrup, so adding locally-tapped northern Wisconsin maple syrup sounded like a great idea,” Jaroski said. “Everyone in the group said they like the sweet/salty idea, and chocolate-dipped pretzel sticks brought to mind tree limbs, so there came about the idea of Paul Bunyan as our title.”
“Butterfinger shavings as the sawdust was easy to visualize, because all of our members have helped each other haul and cut firewood each winter.”
This is the first time the Pesobic Pathfinders entered the contest, Jaroski said.
Historically, a number of contest-winning flavors became such great sellers that they were added to the permanent line-up of flavors. “Winning flavors such as Pirate’s Bounty, Elephant Tracks, and – my personal favorite – Wisconsin Campfire S’mores are available all year-round at the grocery store,” said Shannon Simon, Marketing Manager at Cedar Crest Ice Cream. The Pesobic Pathfinders were really excited to learn about that possibility, as well.

Other finalists and their flavors

The other 4-H clubs that were finalists in the contest will receive a Cedar Crest Ice Cream party and include Cloverview 4-H Club [Waterford, Wis. in Racine County] for their flavor idea – Peanut Butter Brownie Boom; Lakeview 4-H Club [Fredonia, Wis. in Ozaukee County] for their flavor idea – Oreo Cheesecake; Newark Beloit 4-H Club [Beloit, Wis. in Rock County] for their flavor idea – Wake Me Up; and Pella Eagles 4-H Club [Caroline, Wis. in Shawano County] for their flavor idea – Heavenly Cheesecake.
You can learn more about all the flavors at:

Cedar Crest and 4-H

“Cedar Crest Ice Cream has been a proud and strong supporter of youth,” said Shannon Simon, Marketing Manager at Cedar Crest Ice Cream. “As we create our premium ice cream in our beloved dairy state – we wanted to empower the agriculture community (4-H). The flavor contest we started in 2013 was a great opportunity to strengthen that relationship.”
“We are proud to support the Wisconsin 4-H organization through our annual flavor contest,” said Ken Kohlwey, Cedar Crest Ice Cream President. “The project requires collaboration, teamwork, and creativity to create the next best ice cream flavor. Every year we look forward to reading the entries that come in and sharing the winning flavor with our customers.”
Entries were judged by a panel of ice cream experts chosen by Cedar Crest. The family-owned company based in Cedarburg, Wis., manufactures more than 80 flavors of ice cream, along with frozen custard, sherbet, and sorbet at its Manitowoc plant. Cedar Crest distributes products in several Midwest states and beyond.

4-H promotes leadership and community

“I joined 4-H as an adult,” Jaroski said. “I would have LOVED 4-H as a child living on a dairy farm in Wisconsin, but we lived too far away from town to even dream about participating.”
“When I moved to the Merrill area and had children, it was a program I happily sought out for my family to support,” she said. “The people within the 4-H program are amazing and work so hard for our children and the good of our community. I have been a chaperone for some trips and events and the training that the 4-H Extension office provides has been outstanding. Everything they do is to promote and support our children.”
“I cannot express enough how strongly I feel about what a wonderful program 4-H is for supporting our youth,” Jaroski said.
The Wisconsin 4-H Foundation, based in Madison, provides essential funding for 4-H programs throughout Wisconsin. By partnering with individuals, corporations, and foundations, the Wisconsin 4-H Foundation supports more than 150,000 youth who take part in various 4-H leadership, development, and community-building activities throughout the state. Learn more at

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