MOROCCO — The Newton County Purdue Extension Office has a new educator — Dallas Howard. Howard started on Nov. 11 and is back in the county where he grew up.
“So far the people that I’ve worked with, all the volunteers and the professionals that I’ve met have been incredibly welcoming and supportive,” said Howard. “I have also bumped into a lot of familiar faces. I grew up in Roselawn and graduated from North Newton in 2007.”
Howard went on to get his bachelor’s degree in English and creative writing from Purdue in 2011 and got his Master’s in higher education and student affairs this past September.
As the new educator for the extension, Howard is looking to reach out to kids who may have a misconception about 4-H.
“When I was younger I always thought of 4-H as the farm kid thing because my exposure to it was with my cousins who all did livestock and they were all farming families, so I never even thought about 4-H when I was a youth,” said Howard. “So one of the things that I’m really excited about is reaching kids that might have had the same misconception that I had, and showing them that there really is something for everyone here at 4-H. The variety is pretty impressive. We have a drone club is pretty exciting. On top of getting your pilot’s license for that, there’s also a lot of applications for the agriculture industry.”
Howard added that another program that was just announced but isn’t available in Newton County yet, is the Clover Gaming Connection.
“It’s all about board games, tabletop games, video games and incorporating it back to STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) with all of the game mechanics, the logic, the math and the reasoning behind how all of the moving parts work together,” added Howard.
Howard, who is very passionate about cooking, will also look at bringing back a kid’s in the kitchen program with the local elementary schools.
“The variety of programs in 4-H is what drew me here to this position,” said Howard. “It’s not just a boy’s club or a girl’s club, and it’s not limited to ages. It’s a program the whole family can really get involved in. I’m very close to my parents and siblings and I have benefited a lot from having that strong family connection, so being able to help build those connections with other people and share that is very important to me.”
The opportunity to come back to Newton County was also a huge selling point for Howard.
“It’s a county and a place that’s had a huge impact in my life, so it’s exciting to get to come back and help the community that’s been so important to me,” said Howard.
Dallas, who married his high school sweetheart — Kyla, considers himself a serial hobbyist
“I’m very passionate about trying new things and learning things so my hobby is actually trying new hobbies so something like 4-H is right up my alley,” Howard. “I love being able to try out a bunch of different things and find new passions and new interests. I think that’s one of the big motivating factors for me and 4-H, is being able to share that passion for learning.”
The extension office and 4-H are excited for another great year and are preparing for many changes to make their program better than ever. Now through January 15, families will be able to access the online system to enroll their youth in the 4-H program. After January 15, you can enroll through the local Extension Office. Members must enroll on or before January 15 in order to participate in projects. Members who enroll after January 15 may still participate in a variety of other 4-H activities and programs.
To enroll online, simply go to https://in.4honline.com. For returning families, simply login to your existing family profile and then re-enroll returning members or add new family members. New families must create a profile and add youth members to their family profile.
This year’s fees are $20 per member for grades 3-12. Mini 4-Hers (grade K-2) are free. Also, if you have more than three members enrolling in your household, fees will be capped at $60 per family.
Just contact the extension office to find out how to do this. If you have any questions about this process, please contact the office at 219-285-8620 x2800 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Newton County 4-H is open to all youth in grades K-12. New members are welcome to join at any time.