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Faculty Focus: Standish Brings Diverse Skills to New Role as Eastern 4-H Center Director

Jennifer Standish at the Eastern 4-H Center
Jennifer Standish at the Eastern 4-H Center

The newest of North Carolina’s three 4-H centers has a new director, one with substantial leadership experience in recreation management and environmental education, as well as a love for the outdoors.

Jennifer Standish, former recreation program supervisor for Worcester County, Md., took on her new role as director of the Eastern 4-H Center Feb. 1. In the position, she manages six staff members and a $1.2 million budget.

The center, opened in 2001 in Tyrrell County – about an hour’s drive from the Outer Banks – faces Bulls Bay and includes woodlands, meadows, pocosin forests, wetlands, creeks and rivers. Boardwalks, nature trails and boat piers give easy access to natural areas.

David J. Herpy, NC State University Extension 4-H camping specialist, said he looks forward to Standish’s leadership and “positive changes ahead in helping our Eastern 4-H Center reach its full potential.

“To this critical leadership role at our Eastern 4-H Center, Jenn brings a unique skill set of supervision, marketing, budgeting, technology and field work, which will be a huge asset,” he said.

Before working for Worcester County, Standish held a series of positions with the Frost Valley YMCA between 1999 and 2008. She started as a program instructor, teaching environmental education, team building and recreational classes to visiting school groups and weekend guests, and ultimately served for three years as director of environmental education.

Standish earned two degrees from New York universities: a master’s in recreation from Cortland State University in 2002 and a bachelor’s in environmental science from Plattsburgh State University in 1999.

Why did you choose your career path in recreation and environmental education?

Growing up as a Girl Scout, I was always outside and always enjoyed nature and exploring. So I think it’s always been a part of me.

What led you to the North Carolina, to 4-H and specifically to the Eastern 4-H Center?

I had been at my job before this for about nine years, and I felt I was ready to take the next step. Also, I missed being in outdoor education and so I started to look for jobs on the East Coast that were in that field. … I really liked the facility and saw there is potential for growth. I think the location right on the water can introduce people to new activities, and that makes it unique. The fact that (the center is) removed gives people a nice chance to unplug, refocus and regroup.

I’ve been getting to know 4-H and really appreciate its core values and the fact that it gives kids an opportunity to learn skills in a fun and controlled environment.

What are you most looking forward to in your new position?

I think the opportunities to grow and to use the facilities more right now – to help in that will be a great challenge and a fun opportunity.