Washington State 4-H Youth Development Program

County Staff Spotlights

Spotlight – Colville Reservation – Ferry County

Linda McLean

WSU Extension 4-H Youth Development Program

 How long have you been at the county office?
Almost five years.

Where did you grow up?
I grew up in the Keller District of the Colville Reservation located in the southern portion of Ferry County.

Favorite activities/interests:
I enjoy riding horses, sewing, cooking and working outside in the yard/garden.

Were you in 4-H as a youth?
Yes, I was a 10 year member.  I participated in Horsemanship, Rodeo project (back before it was changed to gaming), Sewing, Native Arts & Crafts, Creative Crafts and Cooking.  I enjoyed both the Horse project and the Sewing project the most. These allowed a balance in my interests with riding horses being an outdoor activity and very physical, while sewing was an indoor activity and more mental- focused.

How did your time in 4-H help you over the years?
My time in 4-H has helped me greatly. By learning how to keep record books, I was able to prepare for adulthood and the responsibilities of managing a home and business. Through my project participation, I was able to learn responsibility and accountability as we had to meet certain timelines for different projects. My participation in the sewing and cooking projects prepared me for raising a family, as it gave me the basics of meal preparation and clothing care. These projects also gave me the skills necessary to create wonderful and useful items for gifts and personal use.

One of the main things participation in 4-H has done for me is to prepare me for the position that I currently hold as a 4-H Youth Development Extension Educator. You could say that I learned the job from the ground up, as I have seen many aspects of 4-H as a member, teen leader, parent volunteer/leader and now as an Extension Educator.

What do you enjoy most about working in 4-H? 
What I enjoy most about working in 4-H is the learning opportunities that it provides to youth. It is so wonderful to listen to the youth’s comments when they finally understand how something works or they realize that they actually created the cookies or that they were able to repair the missing button on their shirt. I truly enjoy working with the native youth on my home reservation. I can relate to them, as I have been where they are.  I am an enrolled member of the Colville Confederated Tribes. I believe that this has helped me to build stronger relationships with our clientele. When I deliver outreach programs, I am not seen as an outsider coming in, but rather I am received as a family member or friend.  I thoroughly enjoy being able to just be ‘present’ when visiting with the youth. A lot of times they just want someone to share their day with. I enjoy this the most!

How have you seen 4-H help youth as they develop and grow?
I have seen 4-H help youth develop into skilled individuals. As an Extension Educator, I have been able to watch 4-H members for the past five years and have seen them grow mentally and physically. The Keller 4-H Culture Club is a Performing Arts club that focuses on the traditions and cultures of the Colville Reservation. One of their activities is to learn traditional native dances. As is tribal custom, the youth must first introduce themselves by telling who they are and who their parents and grandparents are. I have watched as their public speaking skills have improved just by doing this repeatedly before every presentation/performance. Their body language, voice projection and eye contact have all improved as they became more comfortable with being in front of a crowd, be it 5, 20 or 100+ people! This will help them as they move into junior high and high school.

As I reflect on all of the people that were 4-H members at the same time I was and in the same club, I can see that 4-H greatly impacted all of us. We were like a family- we played together, worked together, exhibited at fair together, and attended school together. A lot of the 4-H alumni from our 4-H club remained active in the 4-H program.  As they began to raise families they enrolled their children in 4-H and some have become 4-H volunteer leaders themselves.

What else would be good to know?
I firmly believe in the 4-H Youth Development program. I have seen the benefits in my own children as well as those of others.  My children were 4-H members for 12 years. When my son was in Kindergarten, a 4-H leader came to visit school and gave out 4-H pencils and told them all about the 4-H program. He brought home the paperwork and he was so excited to tell me all about it. We enrolled him, and when my daughter entered Kindergarten, we enrolled her, too. They were both very successful 4-H’ers and still have friends from their 4-H and Fair days. I think parents/adults need to realize that if they offer something positive for young people to participate in, they will. It doesn’t matter if it is baking cookies, weeding a garden, working on a small engine or learning how to tie knots.  As long as you are there to listen to young people, show you care and are sincere -- then a bond will be developed that will impact that youth for the rest of his/her life.

Linda McLean
4-H/ANR Extension Coordinator
WSU Colville Reservation-Ferry County Extension
(509) 634-2305

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