By ZOË WATKINS
Emily Osterhaus, a well-known staple in the local 4-H community, is leaving her position as a youth development leader in Bedford County.
She will be pursuing a position in the Adult Family and Consumer Sciences in Lincoln County. A reception was held last Thursday to mark her 26 ½ years as a 4-H agent at the UT Extension Office.
“It’s been a lot of fun. Great adventures,” said Osterhaus.
It all started when Osterhaus was a 4-H member in Wilson County while she was growing up. Upon starting her college career at Middle Tennessee State University, she switched her major from Fashion Merchandise to Family Consumer Sciences. Her advisor then suggested she become a 4-H agent.
After graduation, a position opened up in Bedford County, which she promptly took.
The program in Bedford County included teaching youth how to cook, sew, and craft. But Osterhaus explained that with time, the program evolved to meet the needs of current students.
“It seems like every year as you get new youth there’s new interest,” said Osterhaus, adding that a lot of the sewing and crafting classes have resurfaced in popularity over the past couple of years after a small decline in interest.
“I want them to focus on those life skills that will help them in the future,” Osterhaus said. “Knowing your way around the kitchen to cook nutritional meals for yourself is something you’ll defiantly need.”
But 4-H has its share of fun, too. She also had a large group — 37 students — who were in the archery class last year.
“She has really worked with the youth in our county and worked up a really good youth program in our 4-H,” said Whitney Danhof, an Extension Agent of the Family and Consumer Sciences at the UT Extension Office. “Our youth are our future, so it’s important that we develop youth and that we give them skills of public speaking and confidence and decision-making.”
Danhof, who’s been serving for 27 years in Bedford County, added that along with Dan Owen, Osterhaus built the program up to produce a lot of state winners. Osterhaus will be working with Owen once again as he serves as the Extension Agent and County Director in Lincoln County.
Osterhaus said the most rewarding part of her 26 years with Bedford County has been seeing youth succeed. “We’ve had so many that have been state winners and they go on to have successful careers. They take that love of animals and become a veterinarian, or they build on what they’ve done in 4-H to become successful adults,” she said.
But Osterhaus’ passion for seeing people succeed is noteworthy outside of her work with 4-H. She also volunteers with Arms of Jesus as well as serves in the children and youth ministry at Longview Baptist Church in Unionville where her husband pastors. She has also volunteered with the local United Way and at the Shelbyville Community Soup Kitchen.
“I like to see people be successful and for them to find what they want to be when they grow up and go on to do that,” said Osterhaus.