Noble Co. Extension Leader Taylor Harbuck Speaks Candidly on Significance of State's 4-H ProgramFri, 27 Jul 2018 11:29:46 CDT
Southwest Oklahoma native and Oklahoma State University alum, Taylor Harbuck, has been with the Oklahoma 4-H Extension Service for roughly five years now as a county educator serving the Perry community and other throughout Noble County. Harbuck spent ten years of his youth, growing up in the 4-H organization as well as the FFA. After completing an internship with the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service between his sophomore and junior year of college, Harbuck says his mind was made up to become an extension educator.
“I got to experience the youth development side of agriculture and I really enjoyed it,” he told Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays in a recent interview during the Oklahoma 4-H Round-Up this week. “I knew coming back at the end of that summer starting my junior year that Extension is where I wanted to go and where I wanted to be.”
Just a few years into his professional career now, Harbuck sounds like a veteran extension educator already remarking that no two days are alike in the life of someone in a role such as his. As chaotic as it sounds though with all the programming he oversees as one person, Harbuck seems to have found a good balance in how he manages to keep all the county’s activities thriving. He credits much of that success to the help of his army of adult volunteer from the community who without he says the 4-H program could not exist.
“The majority of my job is putting together programming and training to send out to the communities and schools and partnering organizations, because I’m only one person - I can’t serve everybody by myself, so it takes everyone,” he said. “I think our adult volunteers and our partnering organizations are critical in maintaining the quality of what we’re able to offer.”
And, although the state has been faced with tighter budgets over the last few years, the Extension 4-H program has remained a top priority for those in control of the purse strings. Nonetheless, Harbuck and his fellow educators around the state have had to adapt to do more with less. Harbuck says as result, he and his peers have become increasingly reliant on the flexibility and advantages that technology offers in our modern learning environment.
“When we’re talking about budget crunches, not being able to do as much face-to-face programming and going out and working with students - being able to provide online project tools and training resources for our volunteer staff that can be sent electronically… as a single county educator and the only one in the office, I can still provide what’s needed for the citizens of that county so I’m not spread so thin.”
Despite the challenges and level of commitment required of a county extension educator, Harbuck’s passion and conviction shines evident in his words as well as his actions.
“Our young people are the future of this state - of this country - and we’ve got to continue serving those people and their families,” he said. “In order for the 4-H program to exist, we have to have that support from the state and we know that our state is in some downturns… So, if (working harder on a tighter budget) needs to be done, it’s what has to be done. Because, our youth deserve the utmost support we can provide them.”
Listen to Harbuck's complete interview with Ron Hays, by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below.
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