Jennifer Grogan has served the 4-H program in Mitchell County for three decades. (Special Photo: Clint Thompson)
CAMILLA — Whether it’s in her hometown of Wedowee, Ala., or in her home away from home of Camilla, Jennifer Grogan is a 4-H’er at heart.
Grogan was an active 4-H member as a child and has worked as a 4-H leader for more than 30 years with University of Georgia Extension. Considering her love for the organization as a child, Grogan was destined for her current career.
“I just liked meeting people. You could do what you wanted to do. Nothing was ever the same. You could meet people all across the state and the nation,” she said.
She started working for UGA Extension in Thomas County in 1983 and moved to Mitchell County nine months later. With a career covering 31 years, Grogan’s impact is far reaching.
Many former Mitchell County 4-H’ers credit Grogan for their love of 4-H. Laura Warren is one of Grogan’s many prized students. Warren wasn’t a shy child who needed help coming out of her shell. She used 4-H as a springboard to land her dream job — television anchor.
“She found out she loved communications and wanted to be a newscaster. As she got on into high school, that’s what she did her project on. During the summer she would shadow some of the newscasters in Albany,” Grogan said.
A district and state 4-H officer, Warren attended the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and eventually graduated from UGA’s Grady College of Journalism in 2011. She is currently a weekend reporter at News 12 in Augusta.
Warren credits part of her professional success to Grogan’s leadership. “Mrs. Jennifer was the reason I stayed with 4-H,” Warren told a group of Rotary Club members.
Recalling that moment, Grogan chokes back tears. “She is a total success and gives 4-H all the credit,” Grogan said.
Grogan can be also credited for helping implement the 4-H2O summer camp held in part at UGA’s Stripling Irrigation and Research Park in Camilla. For seven years, 4-H’ers from Mitchell and surrounding counties visit the park on the first day of the three-day camp, which educates youth about water conservation and water usage.
“We always think when you turn on the faucets water is going to be there, but it might not be if we didn’t start doing something about it. We offered this camp as one of our summer classes for our kids,” Grogan said. “Everybody in the district heard about it and wanted to know if they could come.”
The camp attracts approximately 100 children every year.
Grogan’s 4-H members have also enjoyed competitive success. Whether it be with its livestock judging group, archery team or shotgun squad, Mitchell County has recorded its share of victories over the years. However, Grogan believes success isn’t always measured in wins. That’s the message she tries to convey to her 4-H’ers.
“One thing that I always tell the 4-H’ers is to go in and do their best. If they come in last place, I don’t care, as long as they feel like they’ve done the best they can and feel good about it,” Grogan said. “I’ll tell the 4-H’ers before competition, just go and have a good time and feel like you’re doing the best you possibly can.”
To contact the Mitchell County Extension office, see http://www.caes.uga.edu/extension/mitchell/.
Clint Thompson is public relations coordinator with the University of Georgia’s College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences, Tifton Campus.