Local 4-Her receives state honor | SteamboatToday.com

Local 4-Her receives state honor

Gary E. Salazar

— Jay Whaley was recently honored by his peers across the state for his work and dedication to the Routt County 4-H program.

Last week, Whaley was awarded the TYRO Award, which recognizes the outstanding 4-H agent in the state with less than three years work. Each year, the award is given to two agents among the state’s 63 counties.

Whaley was given the honor during the annual meeting in Fort Collins for the Colorado Association of 4-H Agents.

“I was surprised,” Whaley said of receiving the award. “It is a compliment. I knew I had been nominated, but I was surprised I won because I try to spend most of my time serving Routt County instead of going to state events.”

The county 4-H position is one that came natural for the South Routt County native whose family has a rich history in agriculture.

Prior to graduating from Soroco High School in 1992, Whaley, 27, was an 11-year member of 4-H.

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After high school, Whaley attended Northeastern Junior College before transferring to Colorado State University.

In 1996, Whaley graduated with an agriculture education degree from CSU and took a job teaching on the eastern plains of Colorado.

“I was as close to Kansas as you can get,” Whaley said.

In 1998, Whaley was notified the county 4-H agent position was available and immediately applied for the job.

Since he has been working as the 4-H agent, he has given its members as much responsibility as he can.

“When I was in 4-H, I would sometimes get frustrated that decisions were made by adults,” Whaley said. “I try to let the kids make the decisions.”

Whaley contributes his success to the program that is in place. He credits work by Jim Stanko and C.J. Mucklow for the club’s success.

“I had an opportunity to step into a very good program,” he said. “I hope I have been able to make a difference.”

Mucklow, who is the director of the Routt County Extension Office, has been impressed with Whaley’s work since he came on board.

“Jay has taken a good program and turned it into one of the best in the state,” Mucklow said. “We are very proud of Jay.”

Whaley is proud that in his time working with the club enrollment has increased by 15 percent. The program has about 250 members.

“The most pride I have is working with the kids and their accomplishments,” he said.

In the past two years, Routt County has had the state’s outstanding members. In 2000, Megan Baker won the award and this year Daleena Babcock won the award.

“I take a lot of pride in those two awards,” Whaley said of Baker’s and Babcock’s accomplishments. “We had never had that happen in the county.”

Whaley’s work has had an effect on Babcock. The Hayden graduate is studying to be a 4-H agent.

“She wants my job,” Whaley said. “That is a huge compliment.”