New Extension Agent

by: Photo By Bing Bingham - Rebecca Mills

   After a national search, Rebecca Mills is replacing Amy Davis as the 4-H and Youth Development agent at the Oregon State University Jefferson County Extension Office in Madras.
   Last June, Amy Davis hired on as the Wheeler County Extension Agent in Fossil. Meanwhile, back in Madras, the slack was temporarily taken up during the summer and fall by Lynne Breese from Prineville and Kathy Stevenson of Agency Plains.
   "We were lucky that Lynne Breese and Kathy Stevenson were available during that busy time," said Clint Jacks, longtime Oregon State University Extension Agent in Jefferson County.
   Amy Davis is enjoying her new job; it's adding to her diversity.
   "In Wheeler County, I'm the only agent," she said, "when people hear they have a new county agent, it doesn't matter if it's in 4-H or agriculture ... home economics or horticulture ... they expect me to know or find the answer."
   However, it doesn't mean she's giving up on 4-H.
   "Part of my position is 4-H and the other part is agriculture," she said, "I'm looking forward to staying with the 4-H program because I believe it's a great program for youth."
   Mills and her new assistant, Penni Krause, from Madras, will be handling 4-H, youth development and promotion here in town.
   Mills is a recent college graduate from Utah where she majored in animal science with an emphasis in agricultural business. She was born and raised in Burns and has plenty of 4-H experience. She started with lambs just after the third grade. It was her mother's idea.
   "I was so little (my mother) wanted me to have something more my size," she said.
   Her older brothers had had market lambs in the past. Lambs proved to be a fit for Mills.
   "Mom recruited a couple of my brothers to be in the lamb club with me," she said, "I got to be pretty good at it ... I had confidence in it, so I continued in that area."
   Now she's looking forward to going wherever the community wants her to go in the 4-H program: animal science, home economics, leadership, expressive arts or any area that teaches skills to kids.
   While Davis is looking forward to her new job, she's also walking away from some memories -- like county fair.
   "Since I was in the office a lot and multi-tasking constantly, (county) fair is a chance to actually get out and watch the kids," she said, "to see them show and take care of their animals and all aspects of their projects ... bringing those in and coming back to see how they did on their project ... have them chattering, 'Oh wow, I got reserve champion!' ... to see that interaction after all the hard work they've put in on their projects."
   Davis felt the support of the kids, parents and leaders was critical to her success as a 4-H and youth development agent. Still, there are some people who are harder to walk away from than others -- like Zach Sperry.
   Zach was one of those 4-H kids that make everything worthwhile. He was legally blind and wanted to raise and show a lamb. People put their heads together and rigged a system where Zach would wear a headset while he was showing in the ring. On the outside would be another club member giving directions.
   "He (the outside helper) wouldn't say, `Your sheep's leg is back, straighten it up,' that was for Zach to know," said Davis, "it was to keep the show rolling smoothly."
   She went on, "It was really great to see Zach, he had such a great time, a smile was always on his face and he always had a great, positive attitude."
   Memories are part of the package when working for Oregon State University Extension in Jefferson County. Davis has hers and she'll make more in Fossil.
   Now it's Mills' and Krause's turn. We'll see what memories they make in Madras.
   If you have a suggestion or comment for Rebecca Mills or Penni Krause, contact them at the Madras Extension office 475-3808.
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