New 4-H agent a former Rockdale County club member

Rockdale County Cooperative Extension 4-H agent Brittany Johnson came up through the ranks of the Rockdale 4-H Club.

Rockdale County Cooperative Extension 4-H agent Brittany Johnson came up through the ranks of the Rockdale 4-H Club.

As a middle schooler, Brittany Johnson opted to make breakfast tortillas for a 4-H cooking competition rather than pursue a 4-H public speaking project. Judges visited her stove and asked her questions about her dish, one-on one interaction that suited Johnson just fine.

"I was extremely shy and didn't want to stand in front of people and talk," she said.

Now, the 25-year-old Johnson has come full circle, as she takes on a job where leading large groups of people is one of her primary responsibilities.

In November, Johnson became the Rockdale County Cooperative Extension 4-H agent. She oversees the activities of about 1,300 Rockdale County fifth-graders as they participate in 4-H during the school day, and an additional 50 who go to monthly meetings and work on 4-H projects after school.

A Rockdale County 4-H member throughout her youth, Johnson said she's excited about her new job.

"I am where I am supposed to be," she said.

Johnson joined 4-H in sixth grade and attended summer camp at the Rock Eagle 4-H Center in Eatonton.

"After going to summer camp, I was hooked," said Johnson.

By the time Johnson reached high school, she had developed the skills needed for public speaking, and even entertained the audience with her acting ability. For her bread baking presentation, she dressed as a little girl, complete with overalls and freckles, and pretended she was making bread with her grandmother.

She discussed not only how to bake the bread but also the scientific process behind the baking. For four years in high school, she earned either second or third place at the state level 4-H competition.

"One of our big things is leadership. I was a teen leader in middle school and high school for different activities. I would get to practice standing in front of a crowd and talking and gaining confidence," said Johnson.

Her senior year in high school she applied for a job as a 4-H camp counselor and was one of 35 candidates chosen out of 90 applicants.

By her fifth summer working at the 4-H camp, Johnson had become lead counselor in charge of the 65 other counselors. She'd also earned her degree in early childhood education from Georgia College & State University.

Having earned part-time program assistant experience at Baldwin and Franklin county 4-H programs during college, Johnson decided to seek the full-time 4-H position in Rockdale.

"I tell people all the time I am the person I am today because of the 4-H program," said Johnson. "4-H brought me out of my shell and gave me confidence in myself and gave me a chance to experience different things."

Johnson said that in addition to administering the programming for 4-H, she'll also make an effort to recruit more 4-H members. She wants to change the perception of the club, stressing that the focus is less on agriculture on more on leadership.

"I'm learning that a lot of recruitment is recruiting the parents. If you can get the parents on board, you can get the kids involved," said Johnson.

Rockdale County Extension Office Director Jule-Lynne Macie said Johnson brings valuable knowledge of the Rockdale 4-H program, as well as other 4-H clubs, to the job.

"While she could change things, she knows the traditions," said Macie. "And she's very gregarious. The kids are going to love her and the volunteers and adults will, too."