Youth educator wants 4-H’ers to realize opportunities



BRETZVILLE — It was in the land of livestock, crafts, cooking, science, robotics and so much more where Lisa Wilson found her passion.

34-year-old Wilson, Purdue Extension Dubois County’s newest 4-H youth development educator, discovered she wanted to give back to the program that helped her become who she is after spending 10 years in 4-H in Dubois County. As youth educator, Wilson provides educational opportunities for the kids in 4-H, and obtains and trains volunteers.

She took over for Jennifer Monarch McGuire who transferred to another county in January. In between Monarch McGuire’s departure and Wilson’s starting in the position three weeks ago, the responsibilities have been divided between the extension’s Health and Human Sciences Educator Jan Dougan, Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator Kenny Eck and office staff.

Wilson said she was mostly into crafts before becoming a junior leader in 4-H.

“4-H helped me be a leader, understand what our community needs and to react to those needs,” she said. “It helped me learn that when I’m an adult, it’s important to step up and help our youth in our community grow because the youth are the future of our community.”

Her personal goal for the fair this year — the fair ends tonight, although the demolition derby is Saturday and motocross race is Sunday — was to get out and meet people. She believes that listening to feedback directly from people can help her improve the fair for next year.

“It’s been a bit of a whirlwind but it’s been fun,” she said.

The Jasper native graduated from Purdue University in 2007 with a degree in special education. She taught fifth- and sixth-graders for seven years at Custer Baker Intermediate School in Franklin before joining the Purdue Extension in 2014.

“It helped me learn how different everybody can be,” Wilson said of her experience in special education. “I have an ability to educate youth with a wide range of needs and abilities.”

Since joining the Purdue Extension, she has worked as a 4-H youth educator for Brown and Gibson counties.

What really separates 4-H in Dubois County, Wilson said, is the community.

“Dubois County by far has the most 4-H’ers in any county I’ve been in,” she said. “Our community really supports the program here and understands how vital it is for the heartbeat of our community.”

With more than 850 4-H youth and 3,074 projects, Wilson has her hands full but said help from volunteers has made the fair run smoothly.

4-H serves as a way for youth to meet new friends, some of which they will maintain as they grow older. Wilson said 4-H also gives kids opportunities they would never get with other organizations, mentioning that the extension recently sent one student to Washington D.C. to learn more about history and government.

“I would really like our 4-H’ers to understand those opportunities a little bit more because I think we are not utilizing them as much as we could be,” Wilson said.

The family aspect of 4-H is something that cannot be ignored either, Wilson said, as her son, Evan, counted the prize ribbons in front of her in the 4-H fair office earlier this week.

Evan, 10, is in 4-H, as is his brother, 8-year-old Alex, who is a Mini 4-Her. Wilson’s daughter Kailyn, 5, will be in 4-H next year. Her husband, Ralph, drives trucks for Blitz Builders in Huntingburg. The family lives in Jasper.

“4-H can really be what you want it to be,” Lisa said. “You get to pick and choose your projects, you get to pick what club you want to be in. Every child has a different experience in 4-H.”

More on