There’s a new team in place at the Ohio State University Extension of Madison County.
Two new staff members were hired this summer, increasing the total staff number from two to three.
Kirsten Holt is the new 4-H educator and OSU Extension director. She stepped in to replace Janet Wasko Myers, who left at the end of April to accept a position in Clark County.
She started in the position in June.
Born and raised in Alabama, Holt has worked since 2004 as the 4-H educator at the Alabama Cooperative Extension System at Auburn University in Opelika, Alabama.
After 10 years, Holt said she was ready for a change.
“It’s a big move, but it’s a fun move,” she said.
Holt grew up in Tuscaloosa, the home of the University of Alabama. She has a bachelor’s degree in animal science from Mississippi State University, and a master’s degree from Auburn University.
“The Iron Bowl is really difficult for me,” she said. “I’ve got friends that want Auburn to win and family that want Alabama to win, and I’m just kind of over here like, go Mississippi State! I try to stay neutral.”
Holt grew up with horses, and participated in 4-H for about five years as a child.
She said her job is important because 4-H is hands-on and provides leadership opportunities.
“It’s disguising the life skills you need in all these little programs, because they like dogs or plants or cows and they don’t even know the grand scheme of what you’re doing,” she said. “Then, all of a sudden, you see a light bulb go off. It’s cool to see the evolution as kids go through it.”
She said her biggest learning curve is the county fair. In Alabama, county fairs and 4-H are not as closely affiliated, she said.
“Here, the year is driven by the fair, whereas in Alabama our year was driven by the school year,” Holt said.
Her goals include building a relationship with local school districts, providing support to 4-H volunteers, improving the extension’s community presence with social media and additional programming.
Mary Griffith has been hired as the Agriculture & Natural Resources Extension Educator. She served in the same position in Greene County since 2014.
Griffith’s position hasn’t been filled in Madison County since 2008. Madison County commissioners pledged $20,000 in this year’s budget to create the part-time position. OSU matched the funding to allow for a full-time position, she said.
Unlike Holt, there is no question where Griffith’s loyalty lies: she has three degrees from The Ohio State University, and has worked for the university for about 10 years.
Prior to joining the Greene County Extension Office, she worked for OSU Extension’s Integrated Pest Management Program in South Charleston and for OSU Extension’s Farm to School Program.
Her masters’ degrees are in agricultural economics and plant pathology, and her bachelor’s degree is in English.
A native to northern Ohio, Griffith “didn’t grow up on a farm, but grew surrounded by farms.”
Her focus is providing resources to the agricultural community — primarily farmers — on the latest ag tools, technology and news.
“Farmers have a lot of decisions they have to make every day, and everybody is impacted by farming,” she said. “A lot of farmers are always looking for ways to improve, and they’re interested in conservation. Water quality related to soil health is the hot topic right now.
“I think a lot of farmers are feeling the pressure to learn about what they can to maintain yields, but also water quality.”
One of Griffith’s goals is to create a natural resources program for youth — perhaps something forestry-related to teach them how to identify trees.
Both Griffith and Holt’s first priority is to get to know the community and “a feel” for what information is wanted. They can be reached via email at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Andrea McKinney can be reached at 740-852-1616, ext. 1619 or via Twitter @AndeeWrites.