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Mains new leader of the Kentucky 4-H

By Katie Pratt UK College of Agriculture, Food, Environment

A lifelong 4-H'er has taken the helm of one of Kentucky's most popular and storied youth development programs.

The University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service has named Mark Mains the assistant director of Kentucky 4-H after a national search. He began this role Sept. 1.

Mains has served as a Kentucky extension specialist for 4-H youth development since 2004. Prior to that, he was the 4-H youth development agent in Kenton County.

"The work he has done to develop the middle school and upper teen programs, the state teen council and his mentorship of the state 4-H officers has been nothing short of amazing," said Jimmy Henning, director of the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service. "The program has grown in quantity and quality, and while it takes many to do these programs, Mark provided clear and insightful leadership."

Developing young leaders has been one of Mains' top priorities since he was an agent.

"One of the greatest things about 4-H is the leadership opportunities it provides for countless young people," he said. "It has been very exciting and fulfilling for me to work with the state 4-H officers each year to see how they develop within that year of service and then to see what they go on to accomplish as adults."

As assistant director, he will provide oversight to Kentucky 4-H and work with state extension specialists to conduct state-level awards programs and events as well as the 4-H camping program.

"In this position, I want to continue to develop and promote volunteerism across the state. I also want to identify the core life skills that 4-H helps youth develop and use and communicate those successes to our stakeholders," he said.

Mains comes from a family with ties to extension. Both of his parents have served as 4-H leaders in Kenton County for decades and continue to do so. In fact, his first experience as a 9-year-old 4-H'er was in Captain Clovers, a club run by his mother, Cathy. As he progressed through the program, Mains was particularly active growing a variety of vegetables for 4-H horticulture projects and raising and showing rabbits.

In addition to 4-H, Mains is a product of the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, earning three degrees from the college including a bachelor's in agricultural biotechnology, a master's in vocational education and a doctorate in Family Sciences.

Mains replaces Charlene Jacobs, who retired from the position.

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