Beth Fair returns to her Lowndes County roots as 4-H Agent

Published 2:25 pm Wednesday, November 9, 2022

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Mount Willing native Beth Fair joined the Lowndes County Extension Office 4-H Agent on July 16, serving students in both Lowndes and Butler counties. 

The outdoors-loving country girl enjoys working with kids and teaching them about nature.

“Beth has a degree of knowledge,” said Lowndes County Extension Office Coordinator Tana Shealey. “Having her in the office and easy for parents and teachers to talk with is such a benefit. She has so many creative ideas … Auburn University and Alabama A&M University have researched and put them into our schools.”

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Fair enjoyed participating in 4-H for three years during high school, where her 4-H instructor and agent, Esther Jackson, ignited a spark and inspired her to pass it along to children today.

“I look back and imagine how much more I could have accomplished and how many more opportunities I would have had if I had been invited to join 4-H earlier,” Fair reflected. “Being able to provide those opportunities for the younger generation today is my goal. That’s what I’m focused on, just allowing them to see and understand and to know that literally, the opportunities are endless.”

After earning her Bachelor of Science in Forestry at Alabama A&M University, she worked with the U.S. Forest Service in Colorado and later lived in Louisiana while her husband was stationed at Fort Polk.

“Before graduating college, and even while I was in the program, I always thought to myself, ‘This would be a great option to have,’” Fair recalled. “I wanted to go to school for something that I love, and be able to come back and use it in a capacity that reaches the younger generation.”

During college, Fair tried different areas within the Forest Service, including recreation and wildlife. But working out in nature, collecting seeds and flowers, identifying bird calls and showing youth how to do those things too, really appealed to Fair.

Later, once she had gained experience working with youths and the job opening became available, she knew it was for her.

“You tend to make these decisions and choices about a career before you before you really even know what to do,” Fair reflected. “I knew that, for me, going into natural resources would always benefit me.”

As a 4-H agent, Fair teaches young children — the Cloverbuds — from Headstart up to third grade. The Cloverbud program teaches youngsters about nature until they are old enough to become full-fledged 4-H members.

Membership in 4-H fits within different categories, she said, and includes agriculture, creative arts, environmental education, outdoor education, citizenship, and leadership. High school students can also participate in science and technology programs.

“It’s more than just the ribbons that you win,” Fair declared. “It’s the lasting relationships, the experiences, the opportunities that you may not come by on a regular given day. But because you have made these connections and you’re part of something bigger, it allows you to become more well-informed about your particular options. And I feel that that’s very important for youth to be able to see something different, to do something different, and to know something different.”