Kerr County 4-H Agent Jennifer Smith says her position puts her in charge of programming for the young people participating in the 4-H program in Kerr County.
She adds that her daughter, Corrie, is heavily involved in 4-H. But because Corrie is a freshman at Boerne High School, where she's raising sheep and goats, works with the Horse Club, serves on the Kendall County 4-H Council, and is a junior member of the Livestock Show Board, that means Smith is also heavily engaged, as a volunteer, with the Kendall County 4-H.
Smith says the main focus of 4-H is developing leadership and character. "We have many programs, designed to engage a wide range of youth. They include agriculture and health-related programs, including raising livestock, equine judging, natural resources including wildlife, food and nutrition, clothing, textiles, interior design, agriculture mechanics, and consumer decision-making."
She says the 4-H Youth Council at the county level coordinates six clubs, including West Kerr County, East Kerr County, Kerrville, Center Point, the Horse Club, and Shooting Sports. Each has a club manager.
The Horse Club, she says, involves "hippology," or the study of the horse. The term is also the title of an equine veterinary and management knowledge contest that is used in 4-H, Future Farmers of America (FFA), and many horse-breed contests.
She says the Shooting Sports Club includes archery, air rifle, and shotgun practice and competitions.
Smith describes her main role as organizing the youth-led committee, finding adult volunteers to mentor the different programs, and making sure the activities are available to the youth who participate. "My aim is to find other people to lead, including both adults and youth. It comes full-circle when youth step up and develop the leadership and character to make the programs work."
Smith is also responsible for the four main 4-H programs for the year. That starts in the fall, with the beginning of the school year, when the "Big Bash" exhibits and demonstrations bring new youth into the program. Then there are the very popular wild game dinner, the fishing derby, and the trap and skeet fundraiser.
She says, "The best part of my job, the basic description, is working with kids, developing their skills and interests, helping them grow into good, community-minded adults."
Smith says she was born and raised in San Antonio, graduating from Churchill High School in 1996. She attended what was then Southwest Texas State University, earning a bachelor of science in agribusiness.
In 1995 one of Smith's friends, Kevin Marquardt, introduced her to his brother, Robert Smith, who was managing a company providing access controls for electronic gates. She says, "It turns out Robert and I both went to Churchill, but since he was before me, we didn't meet there. So we weren't high-school-sweethearts, but we got married in 1997."
Smith says she worked for seven years with Alamo Industrial Inc., in Seguin, which provided roadside mowing equipment. While there, she attended Texas State University, earning her master of science in agriculture education teaching in 2009. Then she says she taught agriculture for the Marion ISD for three years. Then Robert took a job at Ford of Boerne, and the family moved there. During that time Smith found time to spend nine years as a representative at the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo, and she judges the Kendall County junior agriculture mechanics entries.
She says they are raising two children. Their son, Dustin, works for Wal-Mart when he isn't being a sophomore at Western State University; and Corrie, the Boerne HS freshman, keeps busy in the Kendall County 4-H.
"In August of 2019, I found my way here," Smith says. "I get to participate in both sides of the 4-H program, as a professional in Kerr County, and a volunteer in Kendall."
She says, "Everything happens for a reason."