Even though it wasn't her first career, working for UGA Extension was inevitable for Cindy Wynn because she loves helping children.
During her 16 years as a pre-k teacher in Thomasville, Georgia, the Florida native served as a volunteer with the local 4-H program. So when the 4-H agent position became available in Thomas County seven years ago, Wynn was asked to apply. She did so successfully and has enjoyed her career in Extension ever since.
"The most gratifying part is watching kids grow and develop as leaders in our community. I've watched kids over the past seven years, and even years before that as a volunteer, and I know that 4-H has given them a great foundation to go on and be successful in life," Wynn said.
4-H played a big role in Wynn's development as a person and leader. Growing up in Fort Lauderdale, Fl, Wynn was surrounded by family members who were very involved in 4-H, including two older sisters who were active members and a father who was a camp counselor in North Carolina. She became a 4-H'er when she was 8 and conducted her first demonstration on cat care. She took sewing and cooking classes, too, and worked very closely with horses.
When she was 13, Wynn's family moved to Lowndes County where she joined 4-H but noted a big difference between the states' programs â€” in a good way.
"In Florida, you didn't know who your county Extension agent was because you worked mostly with volunteers," Wynn said. "When I joined Lowndes County 4-H, we actually went to club meetings during school and became very familiar with the Extension agents. It was very different."
Though Wynn's career path started with educating children in a classroom, it was only a matter of time before she began teaching kids through 4-H.
"That is my passion. I love working with youth," Wynn said. "I grew up in it. I had family ties. All three of my children were involved."
In Thomas County, Wynn has implemented a program that focuses on promoting 4-H as a whole, rather than just one event.
"I've seen horse programs in which the kids are maybe only focused on showing their horse at the state 4-H show, and you don't really see them anywhere else. That's what we really did not want here. We wanted those kids that were seen showing livestock, we also wanted to see them at DPA (district project achievement)," Wynn said. "The kids that are trying out for Clovers and Company, we want them to be involved in other things and not just focused on one thing."
The change has paid off as Thomas County project achievement numbers hover around 30, which Wynn believes is high for her district. Other club areas, like horse program, Project SAFE (Shooting Awareness, Fun and Education) and the livestock program, have also grown.
"I think we have a very quality program here because we work so hard to promote the total program and let 4-H'ers know what all is out there," Wynn said.
Visit the UGA Extension Thomas County website for more information about local programs.
Published July 11, 2014
"The most gratifying part is watching kids grow and develop as leaders in our community. I've watched kids over the past seven years, and even years before that as a volunteer, and I know that 4-H has given them a great foundation to go on and be successful in life."
- Cindy Wynn, Thomas County 4-H Agent