Washington State 4-H Youth Development Program

County Staff Spotlights

Spotlight – Benton/Franklin Counties

Natalie Kinion

WSU Extension 4-H Youth Development Program

 How long you’ve been at the county office:
Three years.

Where did you grow up?
Pasco, WA.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I love being outdoors and like fishing, bowfishing, boating, camping, and hiking. I also love to explore on road trip adventures.  And shopping!!! I love shopping for good sales.  I wish I had more time to travel.  Places I would like to see include Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Spain, and the home locations of many of my friends and teammates from the University of Alabama.

What is your 4-H experience?
I was in 4-H from third grade through my senior year of high school. I took part in many projects including swine, sewing, fashion review, cooking, crafts, public presentations, drawing, educational displays, citizenship, leadership, and flower arranging.

What did you enjoy the most?
I really enjoyed fashion review because I liked the challenge of the interview as well as the prestige of showing off the outfit by modeling. It was fun, but competitive.

My favorite project during the 4-H year was when my club adopted a family in need. We got the information about the family and rallied together to get them things they needed that winter. Then we delivered the presents to their doorstep. It was always so truly rewarding to know how much we were helping the family.  One year we found out that just two days after we dropped off all the gifts the family was robbed of all of the things we had just delivered so we did it all over again! My club went around to grocery stores and shopping centers and asked for donations to help the family. The family was grateful the first time but completely overwhelmed the second time.  We continue these types of needed items drives every winter in Benton and Franklin Counties' 4-H program. We do an All-Club Community Service Needed Items Drive where all clubs can participate. Last year we filled a four horse trailer full of items!

How did your time in 4-H help you over the years?
I believe that I was most helped by 4-H in my ability to speak publicly. I built my confidence and skills in 4-H throughout the years and now I don't think twice about teaching 200 adults in a workshop. I've also gained valuable financial skills through 4-H because we were required to keep an up-to-date record book. This got me started in budget planning, and paying bills -- things I still do today. I am thankful for that solid start I got in 4-H. 

What do you enjoy most about working in 4-H? 
This is my dream job! I wanted to be a teacher and, not only do I get to teach adults and youth, but I get to have fun doing it by applying the process of experiential education. It feels tremendous to be able to give back to a program that gave so much to me and my life today. I keep trying to raise the bar of what 4-H is and what 4-H does in Benton and Franklin Counties. I know that we do an excellent job of instilling life skills in youth and I'm excited about getting to work for the organization, share our stories, build upon our successes and learn from our failures. It’s great to evolve into an organization that continues to Make the Best Better!

I love getting to watch children learn and grow whether it is throughout the week of 4-H Summer Camp or from year to year.  It is truly rewarding to see them take on more responsibilities, volunteer to run activities, or even request to start a new program or activity. When I see kids modeling the skills that we've worked to teach and grow in them, I'm proud to know that 4-H was a big part of that, who they are now and who they will become.

How have you seen 4-H help youth as they develop and grow?
I've seen shy little five-year-olds blossom into blue ribbon junior public presenters. I've seen two girls who thought that they were very different bond over rabbits and become long-time friends. High school students, from all walks of life, constructed a team around a robot and are make life-long friendships.  Kids labeled "unruly" have become the nicest, politest, well-behaved Counselors-In-Training at 4-H Camp. I've seen second chances that you don't get in other organizations become the chance that a kid needed. I've seen adults making significant positive impacts on children that very well could be the difference for that child's life. 4-H brings people together and instills a sense of greater community.  Together, we are making a difference and that is why I do what I do. That is why I love my job!

What else would be good to know?
I received my Bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education English Language Arts at the University of Alabama.  Roll Tide!  I was a high school English teacher for three and half years before coming to work for WSU Extension on a Washington Regional Afterschool Project grant.

Natalie Kinion
Area Extension Educator
Youth Development/ 4-H
Washington State University Extension
Benton & Franklin Counties
509-545-3511
nkinion@wsu.edu

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Contact Us, Toll Free: 866-458-0196; Pullman Office: 509-335-2981; Puyallup Office: 253-445-4550
WSU Extension State 4-H Office, P.O. Box 646248, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164-6248 USA