The South Dakota State University Extension announced Monday the appointment of Will Kennedy as 4-H youth program advisor for Yankton, Clay and Bon Homme counties.
Kennedy served as the Clay County 4-H/youth development educator before the Extension underwent restructuring in October.
"In my position, I worked in Clay County, and I was in Yankton County a fair amount as well. So I am familiar with those counties, and I'm excited to work with them. I met quite a few of the 4-H families from Bon Homme when we were talking about the consolidation, and they seemed like an awfully good group," Kennedy said. "I think it'll be an exciting new time. It will take some time getting used to for everyone, but it's going to be a good consolidation with the three counties."
Kennedy, who will officially began his new position Thursday, said his first plan of action will be to refamiliarize himself with the area.
"We're going to get to know the people in the counties, touch base with them again, and figure out which schedule works best for everyone involved," he said.
Kennedy said he will divide his time among the three Extension offices, which each county has committed to funding for the upcoming fiscal year.
"I will have part-time housing in each county," he said. "The offices will be open full time, but I will only be there part time in each county."
While his schedule has yet to be determined, Kennedy said there will be a 40/40/20 split for his time devoted to each county. This amount was determined by the level of support each county chose to invest in the program.
"Basically it's two days a week in Bon Homme, two days a week in Clay, and one day a week in Yankton," he said. "And that's just a typical week. When it comes to youth development, the schedule is usually anything but typical."
Having served part of the area already, Kennedy said his experience should help give him a head start with the new position.
"We've already been through some of the learning experiences ¬– the bumps in the road," he said. "But at the same time, we have to look to the future and not get hung up on the past. We have to keep looking forward and creating new opportunities."
Kennedy said the task he most looks forward to is educational programming.
"We have done a lot of the science technology, engineering, and mathematics programming – making science fun for the youth. I really look forward to continuing to do that, along with the traditional 4-H duties – being involved with the county fair, livestock, and things like that," he said.
While he looks forward to his involvement in those areas, Kennedy admitted that serving multiple counties could pose some challenges.
"It's going to be a little different in that there are going to be three of everything for the most part, but I have an awful lot of faith in the 4-H groups in each county that they'll work with me and we'll make it work," he said. "Yankton has just an outstanding 4-H program assistant in place right now in Lauren Fosheim, and I will be working with her, so that's going to be a good opportunity as well."
SDSU Extension will ultimately hire 32 4-H youth program advisors to support the county-specific needs of the 4-H program. Advisors hired to date include the following:
Aurora, Buffalo, Jerauld and Sanborn counties: Audra Scheel; Beadle County: John Madison;
Bon Homme, Clay and Yankton counties: Will Kennedy; Butte/Lawrence counties: Elizabeth (Betsy) Burtzlaff; Brookings County: Sonia Mack; Campbell/Edmunds/McPherson/ Walworth counties: Jeff Mueller; Charles Mix/Douglas counties: Stephanie Chambliss; Clark/Spink counties: Kim McGraw; Codington County: Jodi Loehrer; Davison/Hanson counties: Alice Nickelson; Day/Marshall counties: Jennifer Ringkob; Deuel/Grant counties: John Keimig; Gregory/Tripp counties: Megan Peterson; Haakon/Jackson/Jones/Mellette counties: Carrie Weller; Hamlin/Kingsbury counties: Aren Fields; Harding/Perkins: Ida Scmidt; Hutchinson/Turner counties: Deanna Gall; Lake/Moody counties: Amanda Stade; Lincoln County: Amber Lounsbery; McCook County: Alicia Reif; Miner County: Maria Feldhaus; Roberts County: Tracey Lehrke.