A career in 4-H Youth Development was not a goal for Lauren Burdine while she was growing up in South Carolina. Coming up on her one-year anniversary as Worth County's 4-H agent for University of Georgia Cooperative Extension, Burdine is where she's supposed to be.
Growing up in a small town similar to Sylvester, Georgia, located in Worth County, Burdine was surrounded by family members who farmed and gardened. Despite that, however, Burdine was never involved in agriculture, much less 4-H.
"The cool thing is that you can learn 4-H as an adult," Burdine said. "When I taught 4-H my first year, I got to learn everything that the kids were learning."
Burdine received her bachelor's degree in environmental and natural resources from Clemson University and taught environmental education at the Wahsega 4-H Center in fall 2013. Her former employer suggested to her that she apply to be a 4-H agent, and becoming a 4-H agent is one of the best decisions Burdine has made.
"It's everything that I wanted," Burdine said.
One of the biggest roles Burdine has as an agent is helping to rebuild Worth County's 4-H program. Burdine is the first 4-H agent the county has had in the past few years. The program is working toward increasing its enrollment numbers.
"Lauren is a sharp, talented individual who comes to UGA Extension and 4-H with a strong background in science, the environment and a love for the great outdoors," said Melinda Miller, Southwest District program development coordinator for 4-H. "This expertise makes her a fantastic fit for leading our 4-H program in Worth County. She is growing 4-H rapidly with excellent leadership, organizational and communication skills, recruiting and developing volunteers as well as ramping up the marketing and community exposure of 4-H in the county. I'm looking forward to seeing Worth County 4-H explode!"
To help regrow 4-H, Worth County is reintroducing several programs, such as project achievement; the shotgun program; livestock program, including goats and pigs; and a recycling program started by one of Burdine's own students. The club is even working on a poultry-judging program and has a food booth at Moultrie, Georgia's Sunbelt Agricultural Expo in October.
Working with children and getting them out of their comfort zone is one of the most rewarding parts of Burdine's job.
"I really want to get kids outside," Burdine said. "These days, kids are just cooped up inside, in front of a computer or a TV screen. I love that 4-H gets them outside. Camp is always a good thing. It teaches the kids responsibility and leadership, and it gives them opportunities to do activities they wouldn't be able to do at home, like canoeing and ziplining. Seeing kids doing things for the first time and understanding new concepts is really what makes me happy."
Visit the UGA Extension Worth County website for more information about local programs.
Published September 29, 2015
"Seeing kids doing things for the first time and understanding new concepts is really what makes me happy."
- Lauren Burdine, Worth County 4-H Agent