Hardin County Cooperative Extension Services has recruited a new 4-H Youth Development Officer.
Sue Ann McCandless, 42, will start Monday as a 4-H agent after serving as a staff assistant at the LaRue County Extension Service for 17 years.
She has worked with extension service programs in her previous role, but is looking forward to being able to implement and participate in a program and be hands-on from start to finish.
“I think it’s good to challenge yourself once in a while,” she said. “Going into an agent role, particularly in Hardin County, will really allow me to do just that.”
McCandless was involved in the growth of 4-H and it gave her the opportunity to experience new things. She said it can open doors for young people and help them develop different skills.
“I’ve seen kids come into the program with various deficits, and the leadership and communication skills they’ve developed through various activities have really helped them grow,” she said. “The most important thing is that 4-H truly has something for everyone.”
With 4-H, she said the variety of programs offers something for almost every interest a young person may have.
Traditions, she said, are important and she wants to be able to keep the foundations of the program intact in Hardin County. But, she says, there is always room to grow.
“I want to be able to take some time to make some observations and figure out the best way to do it,” she said. “The past two years have taught us that we need to be very fluid in how we deliver programs in order to consistently meet the needs of our youth.
The world is constantly changing and she said she would keep that in mind and find a way to blend new ideas with the program’s traditional values.
His move to the Hardin County office stems from continuing his education to teach his sons, Brayden and Nolan, that they can achieve their goals.
By working in the extension program at the University of Kentucky, she was able to take six hours of classes per semester for free.
“I decided to try to lead by example and enrolled at Western Kentucky University to prepare for my bachelor’s degree,” she said. “I thought if I could show them mom can do it, then they’d see they could do it too.”
Being a single mom, working full time and going to school wasn’t always easy, but she did it and graduated Summa Cum Laude in May. She hopes her sons have learned from her experience.
“The struggle is real as they say, but you can do it,” she said, adding that you just have to take a chance.
She took this chance to come to Hardin County and feels like this step is where God wants her to be.
She takes the place of 4-H youth development worker Bonnie Jolly, who served for 25 years and retired in 2020.
McCandless said she worked with Jolly a few times with the Country Ham Project.
“I would say Bonnie is something of a legend and in no way do I think I would ever come close to filling her shoes,” she said. “I can only hope that I can manage the foundations she laid in a way that will make her proud.”
A welcome reception for McCandless is scheduled from 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Hardin County Extension Service office.