BRULE-LYMAN COUNTIES — Laura Alexander knows she's young, but she won't let that stop her from taking on a role she's prepared for her whole life.
The 23-year-old was recently named the 4-H program youth adviser for Brule and Lyman counties. And she's not concerned her age will impact her job, she said, but instead put her ahead of the game.
"I'm excited to get the opportunity to just serve the people of Brule and Lyman counties and interact with everybody," she said. "I'm really passionate about what 4-H has to offer, so I'm excited to see where that goes."
The Clark native graduated from South Dakota State University in Brookings in August with a degree in human development and family studies. As well as participating in 4-H while in grade school, Alexander also worked in the state 4-H office in Brookings during college. And now she's ready to take on a new challenge.
As adviser, Alexander will support the needs of 4-H youth in Brule and Lyman counties through research, education and any other necessary resources to help run the counties' programs.
Her busy time of the year will come in the summer, when 4-H events, such as Achievement Days, are in full swing. For now, she's focusing on connecting with area schools for educational programming and informational presentations.
"Laura's passion for 4-H and serving South Dakota's youth make her a great fit," said Donna Bittiker, the program director for the SDSU Extension state 4-H, in a press release. "Laura is a 4-H alumnus and has experience in working as a student at the state 4-H office."
Engaging with youth
Since she was in diapers, Alexander has always been involved in 4-H.
The youngest of four siblings, Alexander recalls the days she spent attending meetings and other 4-H events with her family — even before she was old enough to actively participate in 4-H. Her mother was also a volunteer and 4-H leader.
"I grew up in 4-H and it's kind of always just been in my blood and DNA and I've really enjoyed what the organization stands for as a whole," Alexander said.
And through showing cattle and giving public presentations, 4-H gave her the confidence and skills she needed in life, Alexander said.
Alexander has since used her degree to focus on youth engagement in 4-H. And now she's hoping to help youth become leaders in the organization — just as it did for her.
"4-H clearly offers that to everybody," she said. "And just getting to know the families in both counties and kind of see what I can offer them as a new face and kind of a younger person and see where it can go from there."
Alexander said Brule County is slightly larger than Lyman in terms of the number of 4-H members involved. But she's still excited to take over the two counties, where a majority of the members are 13 and younger, she said.
Her goal is to work with teachers and school districts in the two counties about the skills and benefits 4-H can offer students, as well as introduce herself as the new youth adviser.
"I'm looking forward to getting to know the youth," she said. "And I'm just very passionate about interacting with youth and 4-H."