There is a new 4-H educator in town. Abby Sweet’s first day in the Montgomery County Purdue Extension Office was Monday, and she is already making plans to work on improving the local program.
“The first priority right now is to get kids to sign up for 4-H because the enrollment deadline is Jan. 15,” Sweet said. “I want to work on growing the number of kids in 4-H. It is all done online so it is easy for people to sign up.”
Sweet grew up outside of Jasonville, across from Shakamack State Park. Her family raised a few cattle but she chose sheep as her project.
“When I was in third grade I got asked what I wanted to do and I said sheep,” Sweet said. “I was not from a traditional 4-H family, but we had room for sheep. We never raised sheep but would buy them.”
Sweet, who received her bachelor’s degree in animal science and her master’s degree in youth development and agricultural education from
Purdue University, was a 10-year 4-H member in Clay County. Her two brothers and two sister were active in 4-H.
“We were very active in 4-H and have enjoyed it,” Sweet said. “This is my younger sister’s last year so it is kind of sad that it is almost over.”
Meeting those involved with Montgomery County 4-H is high on Sweet’s to-do list. She is aware the county has an army of volunteers and she wants to meet them soon.
“I am excited to get out and meet everyone
involved in 4-H,” Sweet said. “The key to having a good 4-H program starts with volunteers. I want to meet with our 4-H Inc. board members so I can start learning their specialties. I want to understand what each volunteer can offer.”
Don’t look for a lot of change in the 4-H program right away. The new educator does have some new ideas to implement gradually.
“I believe there is a place for traditional 4-H,” Sweet said. “But, I also believe you have to get out of the box to show kids there is something in 4-H for everyone.”
Sweet said being involved with 4-H is a good way to learn life skills. She understands 4-H helps prepare participants for the future.
“I want to build the youth programs because they provide a lot of opportunity to grow and develop skills,” Sweet said. “What a person learns in 4-H can help them apply for college and for jobs. Kids can learn the skills they need from participating in 4-H.”
Sweet is an avid baseball fan. Her father, David Sweet, was a successful baseball coach at Shakamack High School for more than 20 years.