Dougherty adds new 4-H agent

Randy West, a new Dougherty County 4-H agent, will be helping to oversee the 4-H youth program.

Randy West, a new Dougherty County 4-H agent, will be helping to oversee the 4-H youth program.

ALBANY, Ga. -- A new agent is helping oversee the Dougherty County Cooperative Extension Office's 4-H youth program.

Randy West, who came into the position from a similar program in Cordele, started at the Dougherty office on Tuesday.

West graduated high school in Turner County, attended Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton -- and later Georgia Southwestern State University in Americus -- and worked as a teacher in Jeff Davis County.

In 2010, he started working for a youth development program in Cordele. During that time, he conducted seminars with middle school-aged children and their parents for seven weeks at time. The seminars centered on coping with peer pressure for the students and parenting skills for their mothers and fathers.

"We provided 'tough love' for the parents," West said. "From that, I came here (to the position in Albany)."

West said two of his three children were involved in the 4-H program in Cordele. That personal connection aside, he has a special place in his heart for the 4-H mission of transforming children into future productive members of society.

"I've always loved kids," West said. "(I support) any way we can promote them to the next level."

One of his first major acts as the new Dougherty agent was participating in the Georgia 4-H Youth Summit, which took place over the weekend at the Rock Eagle 4-H Center in Eatonton.

As part of the summit, teams from each of the state's counties were expected to broaden their perspective on the problems within their communities and how to solve them while collaborating with teams from other counties, information from the Georgia 4-H website indicates.

"The kids come up with action plans to target problems," West said.

While building on youth outreach opportunities, the focus from West's end will also be recruitment -- which involves going into the area's elementary and middle schools.

Part of his duties will also be to oversee the program as well as conduct club meetings, West said.

The character-building opportunities are enhanced by competitions on district and state levels. The experience of just being able to go to these competitions is a positive one for some students, West said.

"(The 4-H activities) will take them to places they have not been," he said. "You get to see different places and meet different people."

The 4-H members from Dougherty County also participate in Green Ribbon Week, Stash the Trash, nursing home visits, summer camps, financial literacy, the Ag Expo in Moultrie and the Georgia National Fair, among other things. Participation is open to those ages 9-19.

The Dougherty participants are split into three groups. "Cloverleaf" is for fifth- and sixth-graders, "Junior" is for seventh- and eighth-graders and "Senior" is for high school students.

Citizenship, healthy living as well as science, engineering and technology are the main areas of focus for the organization, West said.

"(The program) helps them become productive, and as adults, become great citizens," he said.

In addition to the facility in Eatonton, there are also Georgia 4-H centers in Hampton, Jekyll Island, Dahlonega and Tybee Island that host various events.

The National 4-H Council's website states that the organization -- a program of the country's 109 land-grant universities and the Cooperative Extension System -- consists of a community of more than 6.5 million young people across the United States, as well as 3,500 staff, 538,000 volunteers and 60 million alumni. The organization has a presence in every state, as well as in the District of Columbia and various U.S. territories.