Kate Whiting uses a hands-on approach in leading the 4-H Club in Peach County, Georgia.
"I always thought (working in Cooperative) Extension would be really neat because you get to be out in the community working with youth and adults while spreading agricultural knowledge," Whiting said. "Agents are given the opportunity to give back without having to sit at a desk every day."
As impactful as 4-H is in Peach County, Whiting has no time to relax. She oversees about 400 4-H members, including elementary, middle and high school students. Peach County has competitive shooting sports, consumer judging and poultry judging teams. The county's youth also show livestock and horses. Whiting finds the opportunity to help students with problems they may encounter most fulfilling.
"I love helping 4-H members with projects and helping them brainstorm and create something that is their own," Whiting said. "I enjoy helping them become stronger leaders. I love that 4-H does so much with communication and leadership for youth because I think there's not enough of that."
Whiting has also expanded her love for 4-H into the surrounding Macon, Marion, Taylor and Schley counties, where she helps University of Georgia Extension offices that have program assistants, but not 4-H agents. "I help oversee their 4-H programs and make sure they've got all the resources and background to help them have successful programs in their counties as well," Whiting said.
As Peach County Extension coordinator, Whiting acts as an office manager. She oversees all programming - 4-H, Agriculture and Natural Resources, and Family and Consumer Sciences - in the county.
After graduating from Auburn University with bachelor's and master's degrees in agricultural economics, Whiting applied for a variety of agriculture-related jobs in Alabama and Georgia, but she always put Extension at the top of her list.
"Having the opportunity to problem-solve and help other people figure out how to better themselves is something I like," Whiting said. Her biggest goal for Peach County is to spread the word about 4-H and to impact even more people's lives.
"We see every fifth-grader in the classroom, but the ability to take more kids to camp and have them participate in contests and to teach them life skills, such as leadership and communication, is huge," Whiting said. "I couldn't imagine doing anything different. It is a life-changing profession for me."
Visit the UGA Extension Peach County website for more information about local programs.
Published December 20, 2016
"We see every fifth-grader in the classroom, but the ability to take more kids to camp and have them participate in contests and to teach them life skills, such as leadership and communication, is huge."
- Kate Whiting, Peach County