Patrick Willis didn’t experience 4-H when he was a student. Now, as the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension coordinator and 4-H agent in Berrien County, he couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
Getting to work with children from an early age through high school is a perk that comes with Willis’ job, one that teachers don’t always get to experience.
“4-H provides a great opportunity to teach outside the restraints of a classroom,” said Willis.
He said that the best part of his job is watching young people set goals for themselves and accomplish them, and seeing students mature and become a successful part of the community.
“When they look back on their journey through 4-H, they discover they have learned so much more than getting a ribbon or trophy,” said Willis.Â
However, winning ribbons and trophies isn’t unusual for Berrien County 4-H students.
Berrien County 4-H excels in shooting sports. The .22 Rimfire team has won state competition in the past, and the county’s other shooting sports teams have placed high as well. The county also has a great livestock program, and 4-H’ers participated in shows and won multiple titles, Willis said.
In efforts to inform Berrien County students about the opportunities 4-H has to offer, Willisvisits area schools to speak individually with students. He also uses social media as a recruiting tool.
To increase retention in the 4-H program, there is a district-wide Clover Jam event coming up for fifth-, sixth- and seventh-grade students. The program is meant to get the children excited about their future in the 4-H program.Â
Willis believes that 4-H can be very beneficial to students’ academic and social lives, and hopes to spread the word about the organization he’s grown to love.
“I hope that families, parents and young people alike understand the importance of 4-H and having children involved in clubs such as this,” said Willis. “It prepares them for a life of contributing to their community in a positive way.”
Visit the UGA Extension Berrien County website for more information about local programs.
Published March 29, 2016
"When they look back on their journey through 4-H, they discover they have learned so much more than getting a ribbon or trophy."
- Patrick Willis, Berrien County 4-H Agent
Bachelors of Science in Health Science from the Georgia Southern University
Native of Tifton, Georgia