4-H is in new official's blood Job: Jumping into a Carroll County 4-H post from out of state is tough. But Jennifer Reynolds brings a wealth of 4-H history with her.

September 04, 1998|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,SUN STAFF

Jobs like the one Jennifer Reynolds got this year don't come along very often: The last time her post was vacant was before she was born.

Reynolds, 25, succeeded Bob Shirley as 4-H program assistant in Carroll County for the Maryland Cooperative Extension

Service. Shirley retired in the spring after 25 years as program assistant for agriculture and natural resources.

Reynolds has taken her place beside two other program assistants -- Carrie Sellman, whose job is marketing and outreach, and Denise Frebertshauser, whose job is extension education.

In a strong 4-H county such as Carroll, where 1,200 youths participate in the program, 4-H staff play an integral role in the community.

When Reynolds began the job June 15, the county fair was six weeks away, and she was a transplant from New Jersey who knew hardly anyone. That changed quickly.

"It was a little overwhelming to think about, but when it actually happened, it was fine," Reynolds said. "I got to meet kids and leaders and a lot of people who are vital and important to the program -- all at once."

This week, she is visiting the Maryland State Fair, supporting Carroll County youths who are exhibiting there. Last week, she answered calls from parents about State Fair details and rules, such as one from a mother who wanted to know whether her son could substitute one picture for another in his photography exhibit. For the winter and spring, she is preparing workshops for 4-H club members on animal species -- guinea pigs, steer, hogs, sheep and llamas.

Background in 4-H

"Her educational background is in the area where her program responsibilities are," said David L. Greene, extension director. "In addition to that, she has extensive 4-H background in New Jersey. She knows the program and about youth development work.

"She's a third-generation 4-H'er. I think that's important also," Greene said.

Reynolds was born into a 4-H family in Mays Landing, N.J. Her grandmother was a secretary in the cooperative extension office in her home county, and her mother was a club leader while Reynolds was growing up.

"We always had very strong ties to the extension service," she said.

Most of her three siblings leaned toward home economics and craft projects, but Reynolds liked raising animals.

"I always wanted to do animal projects, but we were encouraged by our mother to do as many things as possible," Reynolds said.

Moving to Maryland

She attended Delaware Valley College in Doylestown, Pa., and graduated in 1995 with a bachelor of science degree in agriculture. She worked on the college's horse-breeding farm to help pay her tuition and at other horse-breeding farms after graduation.

In April, she visited her alma mater to help judge a livestock contest. She ran into Gabe Zepp, who also attended Delaware Valley and is from Carroll County. He told her about the opening at the extension service in Carroll.

"They were looking for someone right away, with the fair coming," Reynolds said.

She wasted no time applying, knowing that jobs like this don't turn over very often.

"It was something I always thought would be really neat to do," she said. "It was a very happy surprise."

She has an office lined with photographs of steers, a chart on determining the age of a horse by its teeth, and 4-H manuals and history books -- some older than she is.

Ready for anything

On a chair, she keeps a folded change of clothes -- T-shirt and jeans for jobs such as moving chicken cages borrowed from the State Fair that had to be returned last week. In the car is a sweat shirt for going into meat lockers to judge carcasses of 4-H exhibitors from the county fair, and work boots that can handle the mud of a dairy farm or the fields of a grain farm.

Like other 4-H staff around the country, she would like to keep her job for a long time, she said.

"I'm really enjoying it," she said. "There's always something different and something new. I'd like to stay around for as long as they'll keep me."

Good memories

Although he is retired, Bob Shirley is involved with 4-H and spending this week at the State Fair.

"Certainly it was as wonderful a job as a person could ever have, because you work with such wonderful people, both volunteers and young people," said Shirley, who lives in southwest Carroll County.

Pub Date: 9/04/98

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