Fairfield Ledger

Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 17, 2018

ISU Extension hires youth outreach educator

By Nicole Major, Ledger staff writer | Sep 08, 2017
Photo by: NICOLE MAJOR/Ledger photos Ashtin Walker

The Jefferson County ISU Extension and Outreach office recently added a new staff member to its roster; Washington native Ashtin Walker, is the ISU Extension’s new Youth Outreach Educator, and she’s geared up and ready to work with Jefferson County students.

“I’ll be showing them the options that are there through our [4-H] program, and how being involved in it really sets you up good for the future,” Walker said.

A recent Iowa State University graduate, Walker completed her bachelor’s degree in December. She double majored in animal science and agricultural communications.

“Right now I’m getting my master’s degree in ag education — specializing in Extension,” she said, adding that the program is distance based, and allows her to work full time in her current role.

Walker interned in a small town in Minnesota.

“That kind of helped push me in the right direction. In Minnesota, it was a really small town that was definitely different from where I grew up,” she said. “They did more projects instead of livestock, but I got to see behind the scenes of what was going on, and learn how everything runs. Then I interned here this summer, and that led me into this job opportunity. I fell in love with it more here and working with the youth and seeing everything grow.”

“It was always my plan to major in something agricultural. In college, I didn’t know what direction I wanted to take it in, but when I interned in Extension, and found that it was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”

Walker grew up on a small farm in Washington with her parents Harry and Julie and her brother AJ Walker.

“We had about 20 to 30 head of cattle that we raised. We showed cattle and horses at the fair, and I was involved in 4-H all through school,” she said.

A defining moment for Walker happened in her youth, when she had a chance to see the outcome of what her own involvement in 4-H could come to.

“Our county did an alumni steer show, where 4-H’ers partnered up with 4-H alumni from our county,” she said. “It was really neat to see how 4-H impacted them, and it made me see how it could impact my own life.”

Now, as the county’s youth outreach educator, Walker intends to impact the lives of youth here.

“Basically, we’ll be going into the schools and teaching students Science Technology Engineering and Math related curriculum,” she said, explaining that she would be working with Fairfield Community School District elementary and middle schoolers and all ages of home school students within the district.

“We’re going to be doing engineering, farm physics and leadership programs. We’ll be doing a ‘financial champions’ class with the middle school kids ... it teaches money management, and recognizing that difference between a need and a want,” she said. “Both middle school and elementary will be doing a kitchen class. ISU Extension stands for healthy living, so we’ll be giving them options besides junk food, so that they can learn to prepare healthier snacks.”

Walker appreciated her own 4-H experience, and she plans to help youth here appreciate theirs.

“I really enjoyed it allowed me to really develop my communications and to grow up and become independent on my own. you get to work with other people involved in the industry,” she said. “I look forward to doing programing here, and getting to know everyone better.”

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