Kevin Allen said he will seek to strengthen Oklahoma 4-H in his new role as the assistant director, Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service, and state 4-H program leader at Oklahoma State University. He began his official duties July 1.
Allen said he believes Oklahoma has long been a leader in the positive youth development arena, and this is something he wants to see continue.
“To continue our prominence as a 4-H program, I seek to strengthen Oklahoma 4-H as a nationally renowned leader for educating and helping young people become competent, caring and responsible individuals,” Allen said.
To do this, he said Extension educators need to “program with a purpose” and keep in mind the ultimate goal in any 4-H project is positive youth development.
He said positive youth development does not happen automatically, and it is vital to recognize the importance of providing positive experiences to help youth develop.
“Whether we’re hosting a livestock workshop or teaching a camp craft, this needs to be a deliberate, well-thought-out process based on positive youth development research,” he said. “When Extension educators deliver effective training and development opportunities, and view volunteers as partners in the program, we get a stronger and clearer understanding of the 4-H program, increased ownership, greater program diversity, increased enrollment and increased support.”
Allen also believes in exploring various methods of technology that can be used to benefit the program, including Facebook, Twitter and other social media, websites and blogs.
“As educators, we need to embrace technology because our audience is headed in this direction, if they’re not already there,” he said. “Pinterest, eXtension, Instagram – these platforms are growing, evolving and are here to stay. To stay the best we must always be prepared to ‘Make the Best Better.’ We have to remember success is a journey, not a destination.”
Allen began his career at OSU in 2006 as a state Extension specialist with both an academic appointment and 4-H programming responsibilities. From 1995 until 2001 he worked for the University of Missouri Extension, serving as a 4-H Youth Development specialist. In 2001 he took on the role of community development specialist and county program director until 2006. Prior to his work in the Extension arena, Allen served as a classroom teacher with the Oklahoma City Public Schools and as an Aerospace education specialist with the NASA/Aerospace Education Service Program at OSU.
Allen earned both his doctorate and master’s degrees in environmental science from OSU. He also holds a bachelor’s degree in wildlife conservation from Southwest Missouri State University.
“I believe my education, leadership experiences and 19 years of Extension programming have all played an integral role in preparing me to be successful in my new role with the Oklahoma 4-H Youth Development Program,” Allen said.