Thursday, August 19, 2010

Cassidy Returns to Routt County

We still can’t quite believe it, but Cassidy has returned home to accept the position of the Routt County 4-H Extension Agent. After interviewing for three different positions here in Colorado and California, she was fortunate to be hired here in Steamboat Springs.

Soon after she began work, the reality came into finer focus when Tom Ross, a local reporter with the Steamboat Today newspaper, called to ask if I had a photograph of Cassidy he could use and he needed it ASAP. It was 4:45 PM. He was writing an article on our long-time 4-H Extension Agent, Jay Whaley, who was leaving his position to take a job as the FFA teacher in a nearby high school. Accompanying the article he wanted to introduce Cassidy as the new 4-H agent.

“Aren’t you and Pete thrilled to have Cassidy back in Steamboat? It’s great she’s able to find a way to be back here.”

I said, “Yes, absolutely. We just can’t quite believe it. We’re grateful she has a job and we’re delighted she has a job in agriculture.”

Both Cassidy and her predecessor, Jay Whaley, grew up in the Routt County 4-H program. Jay served as the extension agent for twelve years and CJ Mucklow, our CSU Extension Agent, has worked for twenty-one years. Both Jay and CJ have said that the continuity in their office helps make their program one of the strongest in the state.

I believe in our transient and mobile society this longevity and history may very well be anomalies. Both of these individuals served as important role models and offered clear guidance and support to Cassidy during her childhood and adolescence. Their enduring relationships through on-going communications, letters of recommendation during her post-high school education, and now the opportunity to work in an area she feels passionate about feel like the workings of a tightly knit community, one in which the leadership nurtures life-long relationships with the next generation so they too may not only survive but thrive.

Cassidy’s return to Steamboat and her newfound employment in agricultural education reminded of an essay I’d written about CJ and Jay several years ago. Titled, Days Ahead, I wrote about a conversation I had with them about the future of agriculture and the future for young people who want to be involved in the agricultural industry. They both acknowledged the difficulty in painting a bright picture. Young people today can be involved in agricultural education, research, medicine, niche markets for agricultural products, or work for a ranch owner who can afford to pay land prices above and beyond what their agricultural value. CJ went so far as to say it was difficult to encourage kids to go into agriculture because of the challenges in realizing a true living. In the end, Jay said he thought kids went into agriculture not for the money but for the quality of life and community in which they would live and work.

Pete and I had always wondered if we should have discouraged our children from majoring in agriculture in college. Was it realistic and practical to think they could find a viable way of life? In a tough job market Cassidy found the search for employment difficult. She spent a winter training colts while she continued to search for a position.

After receiving Tom’s request for a photo, I realized how fortunate we all were. Cassidy will be hopping right into the middle of the Routt County Fair in her new position, an immediate initiation. While I imagine it will be stressful and overwhelming at times, she will at least be familiar with the landscape, one in which she walked for ten years as a 4-H member. She too knows there will be the same kind of familiar support in those around her, the kind of nurturing support that guides and affirms our abilities and future growth.

See for news of Cassidy’s first fair as the 4-H Extension Agent.

I also invite you to read “Days Ahead” on my website at:

*Accompanying photo courtesy of the Steamboat Springs Pilot and Today Newspaper

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