Youth coordinator joins Extension office
A new county youth coordinator began working at Jefferson County ISU Extension Office in early August.
Courtney Taglauer, a native of rural Fairfield, brings a degree in agricultural education from Iowa State University and familiarity with the county.
She is a former 4-H member and Fairfield High School FFA student.
“I was very involved with 4-H growing up and showed chickens at the Greater Jefferson County Fair,” she said.
Since graduating from ISU with a minor in agronomy, Taglauer taught high school and was an FFA sponsor in western Iowa for four years. She is working on a master’s degree in agricultural education through ISU.
She has returned to Fairfield the past three summers and assisted with county fair preparations.
“It just happened the full-time job opened up, and I decided to take a break from the classroom,” she said. “I like working with youth in day camps and teaching about agriculture in a more informal setting than the classroom.”
As youth coordinator, Taglauer will organize day camps and workshops for students, coordinate 4-H programs and plan educational services through the Extension office.
The day camps are open to students in kindergarten through sixth grade.
“It’s not necessary to be a 4-H member to participate,” said Taglauer. “About 50 percent of our participants are 4-H members. Everyone is welcome.”
Taglauer has been working at the Extension office since June as part of her summer job.
“In June, it’s all about prepping for the county fair,” she said. “In July, we held day camps. In August, I took static display projects to the state fair. We had 32 county fair entries advance to the state fair.”
Another aspect of her duties in the full-time job will be to visit each of the county 4-H clubs at one of their meetings.
“We’re participating with youth in the annual Kids’ Day Parade. I don’t know what we’re planning yet, but we’ll do something,” she said.
Winter activities include beef weigh-ins in December; hog weigh-ins in January; and sheep weigh-ins in March.
“I’ll help with the livestock weigh-ins,” said Taglauer. “I have shown cattle at the fair, but mostly it was chickens.”
She has ideas to add activities for youth through the Extension office services.
“Day camps were held in the past during summer,” she said. “I’d like to add workshops on other days and times throughout the year. Maybe we could do something on late-start Wednesdays, or have a day camp over the winter school break.
“I attended Fairfield schools registration day and sat at a table with pamphlets at the middle school,” she said. “Anyway we can provide resources for youth in expanding learning about food, agriculture and home projects, we want to know about those opportunities.”
The Extension office provides a program through another county about “Pick a Better Snack.”
“Someone else handles that area and goes around to the schools demonstrating about healthy food choices,” said Taglauer.
September brings a new season of 4-H club activities.
“We’ll be recruiting youth to join 4-H,” she said. “It’s not just for kids living on farms, it’s for everyone. Youth in grades fourth through high school seniors can belong to 4-H; Clover Kids is for grades kindergarten through third.
“Not all activities are centered around the county fair, either,” said Taglauer. “Students can be in 4-H and not exhibit at the fair. But categories are so wide spread, there is something for everyone.
“Projects can be about livestock and agriculture, but also about clothes, pets — and I’ve seen lizards and turtles exhibited — about woodworking or refinishing,
gardening, canning, shopping, photography, just about anything. 4-H is about networking and learning”
The Extension office sponsors a 4-H Find Out Night, which will be 4-7 p.m. Oct. 10 in the Activities Building at the fairgrounds.
National 4-H Week is celebrated Oct. 6-12.
Call the Extension office at 472-4166 for more information about 4-H and other programs.