Lynn Davis didn't pursue a career in University of Georgia Extension. It was only by "accident" that Davis found her dream job as a 4-H agent in Turner County.
Turner County youth have benefited by Davis' accidental profession.
"Agriculture is really at the heart of this community, and we don't have a lot of resources. Therefore, our young people really want extra-curricular activities, and their parents want that for them too," Davis said.
Those activities include trips to camp, state competitions and visits to the UGA campus in Athens. It's the little things that make these out-of-town excursions worthwhile for Davis.
"We went to Athens for a state livestock judging contest and there were three children that had never been north of Macon. Knowing that you're exposing them and letting them see the University of Georgia campus, helping kids make up a bed for the first time and helping kids make a collect call home - those are the things that let you know you're teaching them lifelong lessons,” Davis said.
Some of Turner County's top students credit 4-H for their continued success. Take Will Walker for example. A salutatorian in his 2011 graduating class, Walker attends UGA in Athens and was inducted into the UGA Arch Society this year. His other accomplishments include being named president of the county council, while serving as district and state board officer for 4-H.
"He has a good head on his shoulders. He was very goal-oriented. You just knew that he believed in himself," Davis said. "Through the years he just kept checking off what his to-do list was. He knew what he wanted to be one day. Helping him take that path and encouraging him in what he could do from a leadership capacity was very rewarding."
Davis and Georgia 4-H left a far-reaching impact on Walker who asked her to introduce him as salutatorian at his high school graduation.
Davis almost missed the chance to enjoy the rewards of serving as 4-H agent. An animal science major in UGA's College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Davis returned to Turner County after graduation to work on the family farm. But the agricultural and natural resources agent in Turner County left at the same time, allowing Davis the opportunity to work with the youth livestock program on a part-time basis. When the agent position officially came open, Davis applied for and got the job, which included responsibilities in cotton, peanuts, forages and livestock.
When the 4-H agent left Turner County five years later, Davis decided to make the switch to 4-H. Though Davis' role in Extension changed, she still continued to promote agriculture with an agriscience curriculum.
Turner County has embraced 4-H as the life-changing program it is. There are 450 Turner County students in 4-H and 125 participating in out-of-classroom activities.
"It can be a very challenging job at times. Children are learning as they go so you're trying to form their attitudes," Davis said. "I try to see what their area of interest is and then present them opportunities that they can participate in. I try to direct them along that path so they are more college ready or workforce ready. It can be so rewarding."
Visit the UGA Extension Turner County website for more information about local programs.
Published May 19, 2014
"It can be a very challenging job at times. Children are learning as they go so you're trying to form their attitudes. I try to see what their area of interest is and then present them opportunities that they can participate in. I try to direct them along that path so they are more college ready or workforce ready. It can be so rewarding."
- Lynn Davis, Turner County 4-H Agent