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May 26, 2013

Farm background leads woman to position as 4-H Payne County extension educator

STILLWATER, Okla. — Brenda Brantley’s childhood was impacted by 4-H, and that is what she now has the chance to do for the youth in Payne County as an extension educator in 4-H youth development.

Brantley was raised in Sterling on a small jersey dairy farm. Growing up, she was involved in different 4-H activities. She participated in communications and livestock judging, as well as showing dairy heifers, sheep and hogs. Brantley began showing at the age of 4 in the fall fairs. She comes from a family with plenty of background in agriculture. Both of her grandfathers were cattle producers. Her mother, father and two older brothers all showed animals, too.   

“Growing up, I was involved in the livestock project,” Brantley said. “It was there I learned responsibility and leadership.”

One of her favorite 4-H memories was winning first place for a Footloose skit in Share the Fun, a talent show with group and individual acts.

“You make so many memories with 4-H so it’s hard to just pick one, but that would probably be my fondest memory,” Brantley said. “We worked so hard on that. When we got that blue ribbon, that was the happiest day of our lives. That’s when I learned that hard work pays off.”

Brantley said she attributes her experiences in 4-H to many of the lessons she has learned and that it helps with her position as extension educator.

“Doing those activities made me the person I am today because I did it on my own,” Brantley said. “My parents were there to help me but I had to work hard so that taught me responsibility.”

Growing up on a dairy farm and being involved in 4-H, she knew being an extension educator was what she wanted to do.

“I’ve always had a heart for working with youth and I’ve always loved agriculture, farm life and different stuff like that, so it’s always been a part of me,” Brantley said.

Brantley will be starting her sixth year in the extension office in June. She was previously at the extension office in Commanche County as secretary and a program assistant. Since beginning her new position in April, Brantley said she is taking her time getting to know the people of Payne County. She said she wants to focus on building up membership and teen leadership.

“We have a great program here and so it’s hard to build something up that’s already doing a good job,” Brantley said.

Brantley is helping to organize a supply drive for the victims of the Moore tornado. She was contacted by the 4-H educator in Noble County to assist them in collecting donations. Brantley has set up two collection points in Stillwater — Tractor Supply and Stillwater Milling Co..

“They’ll continue on,” Brantley said. “If people keep bringing stuff we’ll keep taking stuff.”

Brantley has several ideas for new activities in Payne County, one of which is a pumpkin show in the fall. She describes it as a chance to celebrate and kick off fall as well as give back to the community.

“It would be something that people could come out and see, and kids can decorate a pumpkin and have a contest,” Brantley said.

Brantley received her associate’s degree from Redlands Community College in El Reno. From there she received a bachelor’s degree in animal science at Cameron University in Lawton. While attending school, she began her career at the Commanche County extension office. After five years in Commanche, Brantley was given the opportunity to become the 4-H youth development extension educator in Payne County.

“I thought that being in Payne County would be a great opportunity because you are here with the state 4-H offices,” Brantley said. “It’s the perfect place to learn and to grow.”


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