Catherine Weaver loves seeing her 4-H students succeed
Growing up in Lexington, Catherine Weaver was raised attending 4-H summer camps and said with her involvement in the program through high school she knew agriculture was the career path she wanted to take. Attending the University of Kentucky, Weaver applied for a job in Jessamine County after a position opened up for a local 4-H agent and has continued working as the only agent in the county for almost 14 years.
“One of the reasons I love this job is it allows me to be involved in building confidence and leadership in young people,” Weaver said. “I believe 4-H gives youth a place to belong, and an important adult in their lives. That may be me, or it may be one of our countless volunteers who gives time to the program.”
Weaver said through involvement with 4-H, young people in the community can experience what it feels like to be built up instead of torn down, a skill she believes is vital to their future.
“I think 4-H works hard, as do other youth organizations, to ensure we are producing quality citizens for tomorrow,” Weaver said. “4-H builds confidence, helps members believe in themselves, gives them the opportunity to master a skill, give back to those in need and learn to succeed in a hard world.”
As the only 4-H agent in Jessamine County, Weaver said it is hard work sometimes to spread herself out in order to accomplish all that is required of her. Although she said all the responsibility falls on her shoulders, with it she also has complete control over the program and that can actually work out to be an advantage.
“I have an amazing co-worker, Abby, who works as a 4-H program assistant,” Weaver said. “She really allows our program to reach further than if it was me alone. We also utilize a volunteer base to help overcome being a single 4-H agent county. We have worked hard to build a diverse, impactful 4-H program. I think we are so successful because both myself and Abby have a passion for this job, for impacting young people, and for working hard to give youth experiences that help them succeed. We have a great attitude and that shows to our members and the community.”
Weaver said her favorite aspect of being able to work in the 4-H community is watching how the program can change children’s lives. From standing up and giving a speech for the first time, to staying at a camp for a whole week even though they are homesick, or seeing a high school student run for a leadership program, Weaver said the skills learned in 4-H are needed now more than ever.
When asked what moments throughout the years stand out the most, Weaver said some of the best days are when she sees her 4-H students succeed.
“When I’ve watched some of our youth be elected to state 4-H office,” Weaver said. “Or when I’ve spent a week at camp with one of our former campers who becomes summer camp staff. When I see the little girl who was scared to death to give her first speech eventually stand up and speak in front of nearly 100 people as a high school student, or when I see our kids win grand champion at the Kentucky State Fair with their animal projects. My best days are when 4-H’ers succeed.”
Weaver said she hopes to see the 4-H program continue to grow in the county and offer more programs to the youth who wish to become involved.
“I just look forward to continuing new and innovative programs that give youth a place to belong and be successful,” Weaver said. “To grow more we need more caring volunteers to step up and start programs. We can only reach so far as employees, so the need for good, safe, caring adults is vital. We continue to add programs as times change. We want to remain relevant, so as technology increases we add programming to meet that. We (continue to) change what we teach based on the relevance to youth today.”