4-H Youth Development Specialist Young moving on

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MONTE VISTA — On Friday, Sept. 15, the Colorado State University San Luis Valley Extension Office is hosting an open house to bid farewell to Area Youth Development Specialist for 4-H Morgan Young. The open house will be held from noon until 4:30 p.m. at the CSU Extension Office in Monte Vista. The public is invited to attend.

Young, who has been with the 4-H program since 2019, has made the choice to move with her family out of the San Luis Valley.

“I am sad about leaving the Valley and leaving the 4-H program,” Young said. “This has been a heart project for me. I grew up in 4-H, so to be able to give back and be a 4-H agent for the past four years has been honestly an honor for me. I am really going to miss the kids, the work, 4-H just all of it. I put my heart into my job and these kids. I am really going to miss it all.”

Young, who is a sixth-generation rancher, began her journey in 4-H when she was just 5 years old. At a young age, she enjoyed 4-H but couldn’t wait until she was old enough to raise a calf. At 11 years old, Young began raising cattle and would sell them at the county fair to help support her family.

Young went on to study Beef Production and Animal Science at West Texas A&M and earned her master’s from the university.

Young went on to say she thought she was going to work in the beef industry as most people do with this degree. Young changed her mind completely when a young girl approached her about joining 4-H and expressed that the only person that was supportive of her wanting to join, was someone in the program.

Young said that after hearing from this girl, she had a turning point in her life, and really wanted to focus on making an impact on children with the program.

“I started in Chaffee County in 2019 and grew the 4-H program 20% over there during COVID,” Young said. “Everyone knows how hard it was during COVID to do anything. So, it was a big deal that I had grown the program 20% during a time when kids were not getting out and socializing. They still had an opportunity to do that with 4-H so that was a big deal. I loved the challenge of it.”

Young said she’s also grown the program here, too.

“I hopped over here in 2021, right before the fair, almost a month before the fair,” Young said. “I was just so impressed with the people here and their willingness to take me in. Here, we have grown the program by almost 30%. When I got here, there were only 200 and some kids in the program and that number has increased to 400. The program is just moving forward and growing. I appreciate everyone’s trust in the 4-H program. It has just been tremendous.”

Young also spoke of the impact of scholarships for kids from 4-H really can make a difference in students’ lives.

“We have scholarship shoots and different fundraising events, so our graduating seniors can have an opportunity at a 4-H scholarship,” she said. “This is so important to me because I graduated out of college with no debt. That was not because mom and dad paid for college for me. I busted it at scholarships and had the 4-H program and multiple other scholarships that helped put me through college. I also did my own work study at college. It has always been important to me to support these kids through their endeavors. These scholarships really do help with that.”

Young also spoke of other things the local 4-H program does.

“We have AG Fest, for fifth grade classrooms and this teaches them about Colorado agriculture,” Young said. “We have brought in partners like the Rio Grande Watershed education imitative, this is so educational. This teaches children everything about water, potatoes, to cows, to windmills. Growing this program and showing kids that there is so much more to this program than just cows and plows is such a big deal to me. Not everybody can have animals in their house. So, we want to create opportunities for everybody here, too.”

Young also spoke of some of the things she really enjoyed doing with the program.

“My passion for helping with after-school programs was there, too,” Young said. “I loved helping Alpine Achievers and Boys and Girls Club, these have driven me to do projects. We have gotten into these programs and have had such a good partnership with them too. I enjoyed doing career Thursdays at Centauri. I loved coaching the 4-H and Sargent livestock judging teams. I am excited to continue coaching livestock judging, too. I love doing fun things to get children engaged. Your children are only young for so long. I really tried to give kids some trade skills and career skills to help them move forward in their lives too. I wanted to give children a passion for whatever it is they like to do. That was my real goal with everything. I wanted to give kids that encouragement and spark to use all of this in their careers and moving forward in their lives.”

Young stated that though she is happy about moving she is really going to miss the children.

“I used to take the kids to camps and conferences,” she said. “The kids have really changed my life.

Young added with tears in her eyes, “I have got memories with kids that are funny. These kids have changed so much for me. I hope that I have somewhat impacted their lives. I loved to see them grow every year. I loved to see what they had been doing and what they were excited about. I am really going to miss the kids.”

Young wants to encourage the community to continue to support the 4-H program.

“This program really changed my life as a kid and my whole outlook on life,” she said. “I believe that this program is creating good kids and good citizens for the future. I encourage the community to continue to support this. Whether that is sitting at a livestock show or giving a donation. These kids do a lot of work, and they deserve it.”

CSU SLV Area Extension Director Larry Brown was grateful for all that Young did.

“When asked how I feel about Morgan leaving, I have to force myself to look at the other side of the coin and think about how grateful I feel for the time we had with Morgan, and how much she did to elevate our youth development program in such a short period of time,” Brown said. “She made a contribution to our community that will remain after she is gone and will continue to grow like a snowball. As the youth she has influenced mature, and go into business, or take jobs, to become the leaders of our organizations, and volunteers in our community, Morgan’s influence will multiply many times over.

“If we are to honor Morgan and her contribution to our community, we must shift our focus from losing her, to attracting the kind of new team members, who will build upon the new foundation she has built for us. I wish Morgan the very best of what life has in store for her and Justin, and I hope that she can somehow know the deep, deep gratitude I feel toward her for helping us through a most critical chapter of rebuilding CSU Extension and the SLV 4-H and youth development program,” Brown said.