Location: Tulsa, Okla.

Business: Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension Service

Interviewee: Clinton Laflin, livestock production specialist

Mission: “Oklahoma State University has had an Extension office for many years with 4-H serving American youth for over 100 years. I have been working for Extension for two years and am one of three full-time 4-H educators in a department with a total of nine educators. We are involved in diverse areas ranging from horticulture to livestock to family consumer sciences,” Clinton Laflin said. “The 4-H program and Extension is in all 77 Oklahoma counties with 4-H and in every state in the union, as well as Canada and Africa. Our mission is to teach our youth life skills in preparation for a meaningful and successful life and to broaden our youth population and programming to reflect an ever changing world. Without 4-H, my own life would’ve been very different. I have a mild type of cerebral palsy that affects my physical capacity only. Nonetheless cerebral palsy prevented me from competing in sports, but 4-H fulfilled my need to compete.

“I grew up and am still part of the fifth generation Laflin Ranch near Olsburg, Kan. Through 4-H, I showed livestock and competed in livestock judging and public speaking. At Extension, we strive to take whatever a child enjoys doing, whether that child is urban or rural, and further develop that enjoyment by putting a 4-H project with it.”

Programming: “Programming is always evolving and today ranges from traditional programs like showing livestock and exhibiting produce to include areas such as fabrics, fashion and robotics. Last year our office had youth in 36 different events on the local, state and national levels. With my colleagues, I plan events or help other committees. My focus areas are planning livestock shows, county fairs and summer camps. Last year we held our 11th annual Kids, Kows and More, which targets urban youngsters from second through fifth grade, many with no previous agriculture exposure. Another part of my responsibility is teaching livestock animal science, including where food comes from, what the products are produced and the relevant biological systems of the various animals: swine, goats (both meat and dairy) rabbits, poultry, cattle, and sheep. We also have a sheep shearing demonstration. Some programming involves more traditional education where my colleagues and I oversee individual clubs for formal teaching in a workshop setting, sometimes with speakers or sometimes taught by us. One of my favorite parts is working one-on-one with the kiddos. I enjoy the relationships and know when my first ones graduate, my emotions will be difficult and powerful.”

Future: “I plan to work with my colleagues to continue to expand the numbers of youth we reach as well as increasing the diversity of opportunities available for them. 4-H has just completed their first hundred years and is looking to face challenges in the next hundred years we cannot even define yet.”


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