Resurrecting the long-dormant 4-H program is a tall order for one person, but longtime resident and extension office resource manager turned 4-H director Alana McCarty is up to the task.
McCarty was recently appointed to the new position this summer and will be heading into classrooms this fall to introduce a new generation to a program with equally strong ties to the region.
McCarty is a graduate of Brantley County High School’s class of 1981 and she has raised three boys – the oldest of which – Randall McCarty – is now a teacher at Brantley County Middle School. She has also worked as resource manager for the extension office for eight years before taking on this additional duty.
McCarty said she is ready to get to work but described the new job as both exciting and daunting.
“There’s some aspects that are the same but it’s basically a clean slate because I’m having to learn form the bottom because I just helped with Jessica Yergen who was the 4-H program assistant when I came into the extension office,” she said.
At that time, McCarty also said that she was involved in some aspects of the program such as summer camp but the introduction to the classroom is new territory for her.
The new 4-H program leader said she’ll be starting this year going into fifth grade classrooms and will soon expand to sixth. Future goals are to re-establish 4-H clubs in both the middle and high schools.
While new to the position, McCarty said she’s no stranger to 4-H having gone to camp Rock Eagle growing up. But with the introduction of several new camps and even more areas of focus for the program, she admits it has changed over the years – even in the few years that the program has been absent from Brantley County in any total capacity.
The more traditional volunteer-led equine, marksmanship and archery events will be available as well as numerous other programs – not all in the traditional agricultural or home economics areas focus areas – to meet the interests of over 168,000 members across the state. And that will also include home-schooled students with the introduction of home-school club meetings. So Brantley’s 4-H will be looking for volunteers to help facilitate many of these programs locally where there’s interest.
“The parents are more than welcome to help in any way they want,” she said. “We have a volunteer program where they come in and do a chaperone video training and fill out some paperwork to become a volunteer.”
McCarty said any kind of help would be appreciated.
McCarty will soon be known as the “4-H Lady” she said, but it’s not a far cry from a popular title she had in her previous experience with the Brantley County School System as lunch room manager or “lunch lady” at Hoboken Elementary for two years and high school lunch room manager for four. McCarty said many of the kids – now older – still know her by the title to this day.
And at some point, she also hopes to be teaching some of her own – a handful of grand-children that will soon be coming up through the the program as well.
“I’ve been in the system and raised my children here,” she said. “I love Brantley County, my family is here.”