By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer
EL RENO – A Yukon woman, who interned in summer 2009 with Canadian County OSU Extension, has returned as the county’s new 4-H youth development educator.
Alexis Graham started her new duties on July 31 with the county’s OSU Extension office, 218 N Country Club Road.
“I’m just really glad to be here and I can’t wait to work with all of you,” Graham told Canadian County Commissioners at their Aug. 3rd meeting.
Graham joins Todd Branson as Canadian County’s 4-H youth educators.
Canadian County Extension Director Kyle Worthington, who introduced Graham at Monday morning’s meeting, said the 4-H educators and their assistant will help grow the extension office’s youth development efforts across the county.
“I kind of feel like we’re putting together the youth development ‘dream team’, so to speak,” Worthington said. “We’re very excited to have Alexis on board with us.”
Worthington cited Graham’s expertise, insight and education background; along with Branson’s approach and his working knowledge of extension and marketing.
Graham succeeds Liz Nicholson, who left the Canadian County Extension Office to move closer to her family’s home in Kay County.
“We’ve seen a surge of young people – even in our urban communities – who want to stay engaged and learn about science and technology as it relates to agriculture,” Worthington said. “Even though they’re not all going to be farmers and ranchers, they still have that need and interest, and want to be involved.
“And they get a lot of that through the 4-H youth development program and through the FFA programs in the high schools.”
4-H members participate in much more than just agriculture. The program also focuses on citizenship, healthy living, science, engineering, and technology.
Graham’s new career choice shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.
Her interest in 4-H began while growing up as the niece of former Canadian County 4-H agent Susan Meitl, who she called an “incredible role model”. She always admired her aunt’s love of her profession.
Graham, who started as a 4-H Cloverbud member, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Family Studies & Gerontology from Southern Nazarene University.
Before becoming Canadian County’s new 4-H youth educator, Graham gained five years of experience in social work and three years in elementary education and career tech student services.
“I grew up running all around the Canadian County Extension office and fairgrounds as well as experiencing all the activities and events,” she said. “It’s always felt like home to me and I cannot wait to share my experience and talents with Canadian County continuing the 4-H legacy of hands-on learning, striving to make the best better.”
Canadian County Commission Chairman Marc Hader welcomed Graham to the county’s OSU Extension office, which he believes plays a key role in youth livestock shows and annual county fair.
“As we get ready to move into the new (fairgrounds) facility, I think everybody’s excited about where we can go, what we can do and things we can enhance to meet the needs of the kids,” Hader said.
Hader, the second-term District 1 commissioner, cited the importance of Canadian County’s extension educators instilling positive values, a strong work ethic and leadership skills in today’s young people.
The need for a second 4-H youth educator at the Canadian County Extension Center had become apparent.
“Everything is growing from the east to the west, so there’s a ton of opportunity,” Branson said. “Having two of us is going to be tremendous.”
Branson noted that Yukon Public Schools will have 100% online learning for the first nine weeks of the new school year. This is due to COVID-19 concerns.
Canadian County’s extension educators will offer their school enrichment programs both online and in classrooms “so we can stay engaged and involved with families”, he noted.
“I’m not suggesting that teachers are scrambling, but this is a total new environment,” Branson told county commissioners. “We have a tremendous amount of resources to help.”
Canadian County’s extension center provides research-based resources – many of them free – that people can use to improve their home, workplace and community.
A cooperative extension service of OSU, the office’s programs and services are specifically designed to solve the problems that county residents face.
For more information, call 262-0155 or email firstname.lastname@example.org