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New 4-H agent prepares for upcoming school year

The Franklin County Extension Office is expanding, with a new face taking over working with 4-H in Franklin County.

Vanessa Roberts began June 22 as the 4-H Foundation Regional Extension Agent for Franklin County, with a goal of sharing her passion for 4-H with as many students as possible.

“I feel like 4-H is great for students to be involved in because they get to learn by doing,” Roberts said. “Something different just clicks when they get out there and get their hands dirty.”

Roberts said she will be working with local schools to encourage students to participate in 4-H and organizing activities throughout the year.

Franklin County Extension Director Katernia Cole-Coffey said she expects Roberts to do a great job in this position.

“She just has the personality for it, and that will really come through to these kids – how passionate she is about it,” Cole-Coffey said.

Cole Coffey said Roberts’ background in agriculture will also help her be able to properly address all topics covered in 4-H.

Roberts said she knows her first year on the job will not look like every other year, because of the pandemic, but she is prepared to find solutions.

“With everything going on with the virus, I won’t be able to be out in schools interacting with students like I normally would,” Roberts said. “That is going to make it more difficult to have students be involved since I won’t be able to have that face-to-face interaction.”

Roberts said to have students still be involved in 4-H during the pandemic, she plans to implement virtual field trips and activities.

“Maybe one day I would go out to Dismals Canyon and take everyone on a virtual tour there, and the next video might be about a local farm,” Roberts said.

Roberts said several 4-H agents in northern Alabama are already utilizing virtual field trips, so she plans to share these with students as well, so they always have content.

Roberts said 4-H is something all children can benefit from because of the diverse activities offered to students. Activities range from agriculture and interior design to robotics and other science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics activities. “We really do have something for everyone, and if there is something we do not currently offer, we can look at adding it if there is enough interest,” Roberts said.

Roberts said 4-H is also beneficial because it exposes students to a wide variety of interests and career paths. Different programs and activities  are available for different age groups, with 4-H beginning in third grade and going throughout high school.

To sign up for 4-H, parents can enroll their child online. For more information, contact Roberts at the Franklin County Extension Office at 256-332-8880.