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Seitz named to national 4-H board of trustees

Janice A. Seitz

2:08 p.m., Dec. 18, 2006--Janice A. Seitz, associate dean and director of UD's Cooperative Extension, said she wouldn't be who she is today--or where she is today--if it wasn't for the 4-H youth development program.

So it's fitting that Seitz recently was tapped to serve a three-year term on the National 4-H Youth Council Board of Trustees. Made up of corporate executives, successful entrepreneurs, representatives from land-grant universities and other outstanding community leaders, the board of trustees is the resource development arm for 4-H. It's charged with assuring that 4-H has the financial resources to continue to make a difference in the lives of nearly 7 million youth nationwide.

Delaware 4-H is one of the nation's most successful 4-H programs. Annually, more than 63,000 Delaware youth participate in a 4-H club, after-school program or other 4-H activity. To look at it another way, 45 percent of all Delaware youth who are in the appropriate age range take part in 4-H activities each year.

Before being named associate dean and director of UD Extension in 2003, Seitz was assistant dean and director of Extension 4-H Youth Development at the University of Illinois. During her nearly six years as director there, enrollment of youth and adult volunteers increased from 209,000 to more than 412,000.

With Seitz's successful professional track record, it's easy to see why the National 4-H Youth Council asked her to join its board. Her skill at forming partnerships with other organizations and engaging the community in the 4-H mission will prove essential as the board kicks off a $25 million fundraising campaign. Seitz says these funds are necessary to keep 4-H at the cutting edge in science, engineering and technology programs, as well as to fund a variety of other initiatives.

But while Seitz's professional expertise is what's relevant to the national council, it's her personal 4-H experience that has shaped and defined her life.

“I went to my first 4-H meeting in a bassinet when I was 3-months-old,” Seitz said, with a chuckle. “My mother was an active and dedicated club leader, so 4-H has always been a part of my life.”

In the rural Ohio county where Seitz grew up, economic conditions were challenging and college seemed unattainable, she said. “Even the schoolteachers didn't have college degrees, only the superintendent,” Seitz recalled.

From the start, she said, her teachers recognized her academic ability and encouraged her to pursue higher learning. Seitz was the first in her family, her school and her community to receive an undergraduate degree, and then went on to receive master's and doctoral degrees.

But she said that if it wasn't for 4-H, she wouldn't have gone far. “I was extremely shy as a child. I credit 4-H for giving me the presentation, personal development and leadership skills I needed to succeed,” Seitz said.

“Jan Seitz richly deserves the recognition that comes with being named to the National 4-H Youth Council Board of Trustees,” Robin W. Morgan, dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, said. “She will dedicate herself to advancing 4-H both regionally and nationally. Jan understands the importance of university outreach, and has extended UD's presence and influence in the many communities we serve.”

“Jan's enthusiasm and concrete leadership will be embraced by our Board,” Donald T. Floyd, Jr., National 4-H Council president and CEO, said. “Her ability to garner resources while impacting new audiences is legendary.”

Article by Margo McDonough
Photo by Kathy F. Atkinson

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