By Diane Turner
Our world is ever changing with advancements in technology and other up-and-coming trends. That’s why it’s important to make sure our children are involved in programs that cultivate skills and develop feelings of self-worth by efforts of hard work.
The 4-H Youth Development Program through the University of Kentucky Extension Service has been a part of our community for years and is currently going through a transition period. A few years ago, Christian County went from having a single agent with assistants to hiring three full-time agents last year. Many faces have come and gone to the program, but each one has helped it to grow in a different way.
Most recently, extension agent Mia Farrell moved back to Lexington to work for the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension. Farrell introduced the MANRRS program (Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences), which continues to give new opportunities to youth in our area.
Current agents Matt Futrell, Kendriana Price and Kaitlyne Davis come from varied backgrounds but bring some amazing talents to the table for the 4-H program in Christian County.
Kaitlyne, the newest agent to the team, comes from the 4-H program in Williamson County, Texas. Originally from Kevil, Kentucky, which is just outside of Paducah, Kaitlyne graduated from Murray State University with a master’s in animal science.
“I moved back to Kentucky with my fiancé who took a job in Hopkinsville,” she said. “We were blessed to both find a job here together.”
Before life as a 4-H agent, Matt was a health inspector for the Christian County Health Department.
When asked what lead him to become an agent he said, “I wanted to come back to 4-H. Who wouldn’t want to have a career that is this fun?”
Matt earned his master’s in soil science from Western Kentucky University. Being the only agent from the area, Matt said, “Knowing people in the community really helps when we look for partners for events like Healthy Kids Day.”
Kendriana started out as an ag-biotechnology major at the University of Kentucky.
“It just wasn’t the right fit, so I earned my degree is kinesiology instead. While at UK I joined the MANRRS program, and that is how I was exposed to extension in Kentucky.”
Kendriana interned for 4-H for two summers and fell in love. A military kid herself, Kendriana began working with 4-H on post at Fort Campbell.
“I was on base about 90 percent of the time, and I’m now a county agent for 4-H Youth Development,” she said.
Christian County 4-H has clubs centered on the military, the community and project-based areas. The project clubs focus on cooking, horses, livestock, rabbit and poultry, ag and horticulture, the Teen Council, MANRRS, sewing, shooting sports, woodworking and, the newest addition, a bicycle club.
Each club works on mastering a set of skills and learning how to use those skills in daily life.
Kendriana is excited to introduce a dance fit club in the spring. She said this Zumba-style club “picks at her heartstrings.”
Kaitlyne said they are always thinking of new clubs based on the interests of local students. For homeschooled students, PACHEK (Pennyroyal Area Christian Home Educators) has a club that meets on the first Wednesday of each month.
When comparing Kentucky 4-H to the Texas equivalent, Kaitlyne said Kentucky has moved away from community-based clubs. Most 4-H clubs now meet in a central location, like the extension office, instead of community centers around the county.
“In Texas, I had 15 clubs with only four being project based,” she said. “Community-based clubs build stronger bonds between the members because they are more likely to see each other on a regular basis.”
Kaitlyne said she is excited about the new programs she is working on for the schools. One is a cooking and nutrition class for kindergartners and two other classes for students with disabilities.
“Every day is a new adventure in this position,” she said.
If you are looking for a way to plug into Christian County 4-H, there are several upcoming events and programs to check out. National 4-H week is Oct. 5 through 9.
National Kids Science Day falls on Oct. 7.
The Jr. MANRRS area meeting will be in Hopkinsville this October at the extension office.
The Issues Conference will be the third weekend in November. The conference is a four-day event where high school sophomores and juniors gather to talk about current issues within their peer environments’ and ways to battle issues like peer pressure.
Also in November, a group of students will be heading to the North American Livestock Convention in Louisville.
4-H members will be entering a float into the Hopkinsville Christmas Parade in December.
If you cannot make it to an after-school club, 4-H has classroom programs, like STEM that provides curriculum targeting science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
4-H also sponsors events, like the Reality Fair where high school freshman are given the opportunity to live like an adult for a day.
Although adults cannot be 4-H members, volunteers are always needed to help with events and club meetings. If you have a special interest in building bird houses, cooking or cycling, feel free to call Kaitlyne, Matt or Kendriana at the Christian County Extension office at 270-886-6328. The office is at 2850 Pembroke Road.