Georgia 4-H Personnel Take Seats on National Board

Georgia 4-H faculty members aren’t strangers to lead roles in national organizations, but it is unusual to have several of them serving on the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents (NAE4-HA) board of trustees at the same time.

In August 2016, members elected the national board, which includes three officers from University of Georgia Cooperative Extension: Casey Mull, state 4-H specialist for military programs; Abby Smith, Effingham County 4-H agent and county Extension coordinator; and Rebecca Brewer Thomas, Chattooga County 4-H agent and county Extension coordinator.

In addition, State 4-H Leader Arch Smith (BSA – Agricultural Economics, ’77) serves as an ex officio member of the board, as he is currently chair of the state program leaders working group.  

Mull will lead the organization over a three-year period as president-elect, president and past president. He is in charge of a board of about 30 youth development professionals.

“We know that one of the most important factors in youth development is a relationship with a caring adult other than a parent,” Mull said. “For over 6 million 4-H’ers, that caring adult is a 4-H volunteer or a 4-H professional like our UGA Extension faculty and staff. We must motivate and inspire our youth professionals to their calling: their service to our nation’s communities.”

Abby Smith and Thomas will serve two-year roles as vice president for professional development and Southern Region director, respectively.

“Involvement in NAE4-HA is a perfect platform to foster professional growth, collaborative efforts and leadership opportunities. It provides an outlet to enhance our knowledge, sharpen our skills and network with colleagues across the nation,” Abby Smith said.

NAE4-HA is the largest organization of its kind for youth development professionals, boasting more than 3,000 members. Communication is extremely important and Thomas has already hit the ground running.

“It’s very important to keep our Extension staff abreast of pertinent news, program highlights and opportunities for networking, along with expanding opportunities for professional development,” she said.

Serving in these types of leadership positions provides an opportunity for youth development professionals to practice what they preach — making the best better.

“Serving on the board provides me with the opportunity to be engaged in meaningful contributions to my profession while encouraging leadership and mentoring across generations,” Thomas said.

By Josh Paine