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Meet Alexa King, 4-H CCE educator

Alexa King, Clinton County Cornell Cooperative Extensions 4-H educator, recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of her position.Although she is relatively new to her job, she has been involved with the CCE 4-H program most of her life. Alexa, a Mooers native, became involved with 4-H at eight years old when her parents and grandparents started a club. Alexa and her three younger sisters were active members of the club until they left home to attend college. The King family owned a variety of horses over the years, and their clubs main focus was on horse projects. Alexa especially enjoyed trail riding and excelled in the Horse Bowl and Hippology contests. She advanced to state levels in both competitions and to the National Horse Bowl competition in Kentucky. After graduating from high school, Alexa headed to Cornell University where she majored in animal science. Originally I thought I would become an equine geneticist, she said, but scientists dont work with people as much as I would like to, and are much more focused on numbers than they are on people. It was her two-and-one-half-year internship at Tompkins County CCE that made her realize she enjoyed working with people. The internship really got me excited about being able to work with young people and their families, she said. The idea of taking the academic world and translating it into useful information for the public appealed to Alexa, so she shifted her career goal to working full-time with CCEs youth development program. Following her graduation from Cornell with a bachelors degree in animal science, she accepted a position as 4-H educator at the Cayuga CCE in Auburn. This kept her close to Cornell University where she continued her education, earning her masters degree in youth development. Alexa loved her work as 4-H educator but wanted to return home to Clinton County. She accepted the position of site director at Momot Elementary Schools after school program, and within a year and a half, her dream position opened up at CCE. One of the things Alexa loves about her job as 4-H educator is there are so many different aspects to her work. There is no such thing as a typical work day. She often has evening meetings and weekend events, so her weekly work hours are flexible and no two weeks are the same. One of Alexas challenges is helping people understand 4-H. It is a learning process that is adaptable and flexible to meet the needs of our young people, she explained. Many people think 4-H is just a club.It is actually a traditional forum where the learning process takes place. There are programs designed for the public such as a school enrichment program, staff training for adults who work with youth, and involvement with after school programs Currently, Alexa is involved with an ongoing science program with Momots after school program. There are cooking classes for kids at the Beekmantown town hall, the Walk Out of This World program, a photography program for middle school students at the Plattsburgh Public Library, and the development of an agriculture career event for high school students. My job is to focus on the process of youth development, Alexa explained. My expertise is in supporting young people as they grow and providing opportunities for them to make decisions and be leaders. Another important aspect of 4-H is connecting caring adults with young people. It takes an army of adult volunteers to accomplish the 4-H process. Extension has so many great educational materials, so volunteers do not need to be experts, Alexa said. Just about anything a young person is enthusiastic about we have a project for. I just really love what I am doing, she shared. I can really make a difference in peoples lives and I can help youth learn to help themselves. To learn more about Clinton County 4-H, visit their Web site at www.cce.cornell.edu/clinton, or call CCE at 561-7450.

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