Rowan County 4-H welcomes new agent
SALISBURY — After being without a 4-H agent since December, Rowan County Cooperative Extension this week welcomed Laura Allen to head the program.
Allen, of China Grove, was born and raised in Rowan County and reports a long history of involvement with 4-H and Future Farmers of America.
She graduated from South Rowan High School in 2004 before earning her bachelor’s in agriculture education from North Carolina State University.
After obtaining her undergraduate degree, Allen returned to South Rowan High School to begin her nearly 10-year teaching career. She taught agriculture and served as an FFA adviser while earning her master’s from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University.
Now, she said, it is time for a change.
“I was ready to have something different than being in a classroom every day,” said Allen. “… I thought this would be good change.”
As an agriculture teacher, Allen said she most enjoyed her work with the FFA. She said the two programs, 4-H and FFA, are different but have some similarities.
“You’re working with kids and you’re dealing with leadership and citizenship and competition teams,” she said. “I feel like 4-H will still allow me to do those things.”
Looking toward the future in her new position, Allen said she wants to work on marketing and branding for the organization locally.
“I think there’s a void of knowledge there,” she said, “A lot of people don’t know what 4-H is and the opportunities that it allows for young people.”
These opportunities include gaining leadership skills, increasing citizenship involvement and participating in competitions, said Allen. And there are several focus areas: dairy, horses, poultry, robotics, cooking and more, she said.
Allen also hopes to add community-based clubs to 4-H’s more focused programs to “give kids in a community a place to go no matter what their interests were.”
Allen’s passion has always been dairy. Both her parents come from dairy farming families, and her own family had a herd of cattle until 2009.
“I started dairy judging through 4-H and that gave me a skill,” Allen said. “With dairy judging, I had to analyze. I had to think critically. I had to be able to talk, as a judge, about why I decided to place cows the way they were, so I had to do public speaking.”
These skills and more are something youths will take with them through the rest of their lives, she said.
“I’m from this community. I know a lot of people and I’m hoping that that will help people feel comfortable sending their kids here to 4-H,” she said. “I’m excited about a new opportunity to make a difference in the community in which I love.”