The Story of My 4-H (Professional) Life

There are many questions that 4-H agents are asked on a daily basis. Among the most frequently asked are usually, “What do you do exactly” “What’s a typical day like for a 4-H agent?” and “What made you choose this profession?” There’s no short answer to any of these questions and they are different for each individual 4-H agent. So allow me to tell you the story of my life, professionally speaking as much as possible.

I was like many other college students that was undecided about what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I had changed majors from Elementary Education to Ag Education, then Physical Education and then to Parks and Recreation before finally deciding on Family, Youth, and Community Sciences. I was interested in working with youth, families, non-profits, education, and being outdoors. Obtaining a degree in Family, Youth, and Community Sciences seemed to be a catch all for what I wanted to do, although at that point I still was not sure what that was. I had always been told that I had to pick one area, and check a career box that I did not feel like I fit in. That was until I began my internship at the Levy County Extension office working with 4-H summer programs.

During my internship I learned for the first time what 4-H was really all about. I had the opportunity to teach youth about Animal Science, Outdoor Education, Team Sports, and STEM. I could not believe that there was actually a profession that would allow me to do everything that I wanted. That is when everything began to change. I had drank the green Kool-Aid and I wanted more. I knew from that point on that I wanted to be a 4-H agent and I shifted my focus to pursue that goal.

After I completed my internship I was given the opportunity to remain on staff though a grant from the Department of Juvenile Justice as a 4-H Youth Counselor for 6 years before becoming a 4-H Agent in Marion County. My first day on the job as an agent I quickly learned that not every county or agent does the same thing and every day is different for each person. Instead of a typical day, I would describe it as a roller coaster of ups and downs that symbolize really busy periods with brief breaks before the next big event and just as you come off the ride the year starts over and you jump back on again.

So there is no typical day or typical 4-H agent for that matter, but I can tell you what I live to do. I do Youth Development as well as Organizational and Volunteer Systems to support Youth Development. What exactly is all that you ask? On the best days, it means that I get to teach youth how to do things such as: soldier, build, and program robots, take a group of youth to the Capitol, or to teach youth about Shooting Sports and ATV Safety. On a regular day, it means I get to handle administrative duties like grant writing, fundraising, oversee volunteer, club, and risk management amongst other organizational responsibilities.

Everything that I do as a 4-H agent is to support positive youth development by using 4-H to teach youth critical life skills such as citizenship, leadership, communication, and responsibility all while working to enhance participant STEM skill sets. It is not an easy job, it is definitely not an 8 to 5 job; but it is a great and rewarding lifestyle and it is what I love to do. After four and a half years of working in Marion County, 4-H has brought me back home where I am now serving as the Highlands County 4-H agent. I am excited to see how this new chapter of my professional life evolves.

If you would like to learn more about 4-H or how to get involved visit the following links:

https://florida4h.org

http://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/highlands/

https://jobs.ufl.edu/

https://4-h.org