JEFFERSON COUNTY – Jefferson County 4-H has a new County Youth Coordinator, and she grew up right next door in Henry County.
Grace Davidson assumed the role of County Youth Coordinator on Monday, May 18. Davidson is a native of Mt. Pleasant, and graduated from Mt. Pleasant High School in 2015. Her parents are Danielle Davidson and Dale Davidson, and she has three older siblings, brothers Grant and Kyle and sister Amanda Pilkington. She has been active in 4-H nearly her entire life, and has gained experience relevant to her job through internships at Iowa State University, such as in its extension and outreach office.
Davidson was in 4-H for nine years, and participated in the sharpshooters club and trap shooting team. Through her 4-H club, she competed in clay pigeon shooting events. In addition, she is heavily involved in Midwest Old Threshers Reunion, where she helps out at her church’s tent and works on the ground train. One of her great passions is Relay for Life, and she’s even run her own relay team every year since third grade.
After high school, Davidson got her associate’s degree in applied science at Kirkwood Community College. Later, she transferred to Iowa State University, where she spent 2.5 years earning a major in animal science and a minor in agricultural education.
Davidson said that when she first went to Kirkwood, she wasn’t sure if she wanted to go into the ag world of employment. She took ag classes, and then during her sophomore year, she interviewed Mike Anderson at the ISU Extension State Office in the livestock department. That’s how she got her foot in the door of extension. That led to an internship with ISU Extension in the summer of 2017, where she worked as a 4-H youth development livestock intern in Ames.
“I realized I definitely wanted to go into animal science,” Davidson recalls. “And I always wanted to do more work with extension.”
The following summer, Davidson landed an internship with Warren County ISU Extension based in Indianola. After graduating from ISU last December, Davidson found a job as an intern at Walt Disney World Company in Florida, where she led a safari through the company’s theme park Animal Kingdom. Unfortunately, the park had to close in mid-March because of coronavirus, leaving Davidson without a job.
Luckily, Davidson was able to use her contacts at ISU Extension and discovered an opening for 4-H County Youth Coordinator in Jefferson County. She interviewed for the job and was selected.
“I was very grateful to get a job so close to my hometown,” she said. “I was a little familiar with Jefferson County already.”
Davidson said the CYC would normally be busy this time of year preparing for the county fair in late June. This year will be different, though. The Jefferson County Fair Board announced earlier this month that it will not hold its normal fair due to coronavirus. However, Davidson said the board is looking into the prospect of allowing 4-H and FFA shows to go on, hold them online, or do a “show and go” for livestock judging.
“It’s not yet completely canceled,” Davidson said.
In addition to helping organize the annual county fair, the County Youth Coordinator is in charge of overseeing 4-H in general, which includes summer day camps at the Jefferson County ISU Extension and Outreach Office. In her first week, Davidson is spending time getting oriented around the office and going through fair entry materials. She’s being mentored by former CYC Rachel Fishel, who is now a 4-H Youth Development Specialist through ISU Extension.
“She’s been a good person to bounce ideas off,” Davidson said of Fishel.
And what are some of Davidson’s programming ideas? She’d like to incorporate some events here locally that she helped organize in Warren County, like a barbecue-themed camp.
“Kids would get to learn how to smoke meat, how to spice it, and how to cook different kinds of meat,” she said. “Another programming idea is teaching the kids about the color wheel and getting them to be creative with it.”
Davidson said she’s not sure if Jefferson County Extension will have summer programs in person. She said the office is making plans to create virtual camps.
Davidson said she’s thrilled to have a job in 4-H, an organization she holds in high esteem.
“I love 4-H. It helped me become the person I am today,” she said. “I want to encourage youths in Jefferson County to see the potential in themselves, too.”