Spotlight: 4-H director shares heritage with local youth

By Tara Jones -

LIMA — For Kelly Coble, it was a no-brainer to commit her life to 4-H.

The Continental native spent 10 years in 4-H while in school and now serves as an educator with 4-H youth development for The Ohio State University Allen County Extension.

“For me personally, I got involved because it was something my grandpa did,” Coble said. “It was one of those family things so we just kept doing it. That’s kind of how a lot of 4-H members get started — they know somebody in it or it’s a family thing and they’re the next generation coming in.”

Coble focused her 4-H projects on cooking and also feeder calves.

“I went to school for education, but I didn’t necessarily want to be in a classroom every day, so this gives me the opportunity to go into classrooms and get to teach,” Coble said. “I also run the 4-H program so I get to see those kids during the summer doing those projects.”

In her position, she also does a lot of in-school teaching in Allen County schools to educate students about 4-H and its benefits.

“There’s been a lot of research on 4-H youth and the impact that it has,” she said. “Those with a lot of youth involvement in things such as 4-H are more likely to go to college, they’re less likely to get in trouble. One of the big things we enjoy is going to schools because that leads to an increase in numbers as we expose them to the activities we’d be doing in the summer to keep them active.”

Allen County currently has roughly 1,200 students in the program. One thing Coble really makes sure to emphasize to students is that 4-H is not all about livestock.

“We have what we call our special interest projects, which can involve things like arts, cooking, sewing, nature, mental health and tons of leadership projects,” she explained. “Those projects require a lot of bookwork to create a display to come to judging with. In a normal year, those kids would get to move onto the state fair and compete against other members from across all 88 counties. That can be really nice because they do an actual interview, so it also exposes them to those interviewing skills.”

Coble is always encouraging local youth to get involved in 4-H so they can also find their path as she has. For those looking to get involved or learn more about 4-H, call the Allen County OSU Extension office at 419-879-9108.

By Tara Jones

Reach Tara Jones at 567-242-0511.

Reach Tara Jones at 567-242-0511.

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