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Aaron R. Gray: Howdy from your new 4-H extension agent

Howdy! I am Aaron R. Gray and I am the new 4-H and youth development extension agent in Denton County.

I grew up in a 4-H family on a Hereford cattle ranch in eastern Ohio. My grandmother was my club manager growing up and is now a member of our county 4-H Hall of Fame and has a building and trophy named in her memory at the county fairgrounds.

Needless to say, 4-H is not only my job — it was a family activity all through my life. The leadership and experience I gained while participating and competing in 4-H afforded me the opportunity to earn scholarships to make it possible for me to attend Texas A&M University.

While at A&M, I earned a degree in agricultural leadership and development. After college, I worked in cattle marketing until I decided to pursue a master’s degree in animal, meat and food science at the University of Idaho. I also used the skills and knowledge I gained in 4-H and at A&M by serving as a livestock judging coach.

I am super excited for the opportunities that are offered to our youths here in Denton County.

The fall means we are getting entries ready for the State Fair of Texas in Dallas, which runs from Sept. 27 to Oct. 20. We also get entries for the spring stock shows such as Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio. September starts the enrollment process for the 4-H year. As the 4-H clubs start to meet, we also begin meeting with our Parent Leaders Association and 4-H Council.

Since I am new, in my first full month on the job I plan to get out and meet every club during their September meetings. I hope this leads to visiting with the families involved in 4-H and assisting in any way I can with their projects.

I also plan on working with the school districts and developing programs that teachers can use in their curriculum. We have already held a teacher training session for elementary educators sharing ideas on implementing and managing outdoor learning activities such as vegetable and flower gardens.

We also plan on incorporating educational programs to educate students and parents on where food comes from and how it produced. As I meet with more young people and leaders, I will also learn about other passions and needs in the county.

In the short term, I plan to use my passion for providing opportunities to young people.

AARON R. GRAY is the 4-H and youth development extension agent with Texas AgriLife Extension. He can be reached at 940-349-2884.