February 17, 2003
Purdue Extension names new 4-H program leader
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. Renee McKee, a 26-year veteran of the Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service, has been appointed State 4-H and Youth Development Program Leader.
The Anderson, Ind., native will direct 135 professional staff who oversee approximately 20,000 volunteers and 300,876 Indiana youth who participate in 4-H programs, helping them "learn in a safe and positive environment."
After receiving her bachelor's degree from Indiana State University, McKee began her Extension career in 1977 as a 4-H youth agent in Carroll County. She was an Extension educator in Warren County from 1981-1997, when she became an Extension specialist in the Department of 4-H Youth on the Purdue campus.
"The challenge for us as leaders is to help those people who think 4-H is just the county fair and nothing more," McKee said. "We need to help them to see that 4-H is so much more than that. It's not just a rural program it is a total educational experience set in a positive environment for the kids."
Of the nearly 301,000 Indiana residents between the ages of 10 and 18 who were involved in 4-H programs in 2002, 66,052 were members of the state's 2,482 4-H clubs. The remaining youths participated in community settings, such as camps and after-school programs, or in 4-H school enrichment programs.
"Everybody, from a beginner to a 10-year 4-H member, can get something out of 4-H," McKee said. "People can learn something in 4-H, whether they show an animal at the county fair, build a rocket or work on a computer.
"It's not just the skills that are learned in 4-H that are important. Learning to apply those skills in other areas of life is just as important. Our school enrichment programs are just as helpful and educational as other types of club experiences."
David Petritz, director of Purdue Extension, said, "Renee brings tremendous experience to the position. During her nearly 23 years with Purdue Extension, Renee has participated in numerous professional development opportunities that have enhanced her leadership and administrative abilities. She holds the respect of her colleagues in Extension and will be an asset to our administrative team."
McKee replaces Janet Gordon, who retired Jan. 1.
McKee and her husband, Jim, a Fountain County pork and grain producer, have one daughter, Rachel.
Writer: Tom Campbell, (765) 494-8084
Sources: Renee McKee, (765) 494-8435
David Petritz, (765) 494-8489
Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722; Beth Forbes, firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.agriculture.purdue.edu/AgComm/public/agnews/
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NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: A publication-quality photo of Renee McKee is available at ftp://ftp.purdue.edu/pub/uns/mckee.r.jpeg.