Ionia-Montcalm 4-H coordinator moving on

By Elisabeth Waldon • Last Updated 9:53 am on Thursday, June 05, 2014

Rebecca McCafferty

STANTON — Rebecca McCafferty may be resigning as 4-H coordinator for Ionia and Montcalm counties, but she is going to continue her career with 4-H … albeit in the deep south.

McCafferty was hired as 4-H coordinator for Ionia and Montcalm counties in the spring of 2012. Two years later, she is stepping down to accept an extension agent position with the Sarasota County 4-H program in Florida.

Her final day with Ionia-Montcalm 4-H will be June 13.

McCafferty has a lengthy history with 4-H. She previously participated in 4-H for seven years in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula before traveling to Japan in the summer of 2001 via a 4-H exchange program. She said the decision to relocate from Michigan to Florida wasn’t an easy one.

“Working with the Ionia-Montcalm volunteers has been such a wonderful experience,” she said. “There is so much talent and passion with all of these volunteers and the youth of both Ionia and Montcalm are lucky to have such a motivated and dedicated community. I am constantly amazed at how when something needs to get done, someone is willing to step up and get it done.

“4-H is such a wonderful program for youth and I have been so lucky to have a great community of volunteers to work with,” she added. “They have been so patient and adaptable, adjusting to me being split between both counties and have put up with my million and one questions, dual-county random learning opportunities and funky sunglasses.”

MSU Extension Educator/Supervisor Pat Dignum, who also works for both Ionia and Montcalm counties, said the new job is a wonderful opportunity for McCafferty.

“We wish her well in her new 4-H role and take pride in her choice of Extension as an ongoing career,” Dignum said. “We will miss her energy and spontaneity.”

McCafferty’s duties in both counties included recruiting, interviewing and orienting new volunteers and leaders promoting club activities and events and helping with the fair.

The Montcalm County 4-H Fair is scheduled for June 22-28 while the Ionia County Free Fair is scheduled for July 17-26. Dignum doesn’t believe McCafferty’s resignation won’t have a major impact on the fairs, as much of the planning and prep work has already been completed and many 4-H club and committee volunteers will lend a helping hand.

“Fair week is truly the culmination of a year of preparation,” Dignum noted.

Dignum said she will meet with MSU Extension Children & Youth Institute Director Dr. Julie Chapin and MSU Extension District 8 Coordinator Don Lehman soon to discuss the future of the 4-H coordinator position in Ionia and Montcalm counties. McCafferty had been working part-time for each county, which equated to a full-time position.

“Of course, our best case scenario would be to restore both counties to each having their own full-time coordinator,” Dignum theorized. “The dual county 50-50 role has proven most challenging. Elsewhere in the state, dual positions have been re-split into two part-time positions, yet retention remains an issue. Anything less than full-time results in reduced educational programming when management tasks consume the majority of a half-time program coordinator’s hours.”

McCafferty agrees with Dignum.

“I think the biggest challenge will remain if there is a dual-county coordinator serving both counties,” she said. “A lot of time is spent on administrative and management work and programming and educational opportunities are missed. It has also been a challenge to meet the varying needs of the program, so reviewing the split role would be beneficial for both counties.”

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