Washington State 4-H Youth Development Program

County Staff Spotlights

Spokane County

Gary Varrella

WSU Extension 4-H Youth Development Program

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

Where did you grow up?
Trinity County in northern California (very much like Ferry County in demographics and topography).

Favorite activities/interests:
Kayaking with my wife, bird dog training, hunting fishing, gardening and landscaping, horses, traveling (not nearly enough!), and—of course—positive youth development.

What was your 4-H experience?
I was a member of the Lewiston (California) Lakers 4-H Club and my projects were horses, leadership, hogs, poultry, and vet science.

How did your time in 4-H help you over the years?
It helped me determine where I would go to college (UC Davis), improved my public speaking and leadership skills, and influenced my career choices. 4-H provided me with endless hours of fun and learning. I did a lot of riding (back-county, cattle work, and gymkhana…a California term for gaming), loved traveling to competitions and leadership event and, as a teen, I discovered how much the girls liked my horses…and I needed all the help I could get in that department!

What do you enjoy most about working in 4-H?
Being a part of an organization that makes a difference in people’s lives—for both youth and adults—is the most important one! The diversity of opportunities that I have as a 4-H educator keeps me motivated. I particularly enjoy working with teens, with parents and leaders to develop/deliver high quality programs, and the work I do with my peers in the area of practical evaluation techniques and applications. Our continuing collaborative work to better document what happens to our “4-H grads” across the state is extremely satisfying. WSU Extension and 4-H has provided me with a diversity of experiences and opportunities ranging from promoting program growth within Spokane County to working at the regional and national levels in the areas of Science, Technology, Education and Math and professional development.

How have you seen 4-H help youth as they develop and grow?
Watching kids grow up to be positive, contributing citizens is number one! I have watched so many youth blossom and become independent, when they were not even sure that had mastered a topic or skill set.  I knew they were ready to fly, but they had to discover it for themselves. Seeing our former 4-H’ers come back to become volunteers is always exciting too.

Gary F. Varrella. PhD
4-H Youth Development Educator 
Washington State University
Spokane County Extension
(509) 477-2163

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