Candidate Information and Comments

For 23 years Vernon Waldren has worked for the University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension, serving in Douglas County (Omaha) for 20 years.  Responsibilities include co-unit leader for Douglas County as well as co-supervising the 4-H program which    reaches 20,000 youth  annually. NAE4-HA experiences include: vice president, treasurer, program committee chair, association foundation chair, world wide web ad hoc committee. State association offices include: president, president-elect, treasurer, board member, and chair of various committees. 

In my speech in Kentucky, I expressed my vision that NAE4-HA will be the world’s premier youth professional organization. We have made strides toward that goal. 

As an association we provide opportunities for our members through the annual meeting plus other leadership experiences. We made efforts to improve efficiency, responding to membership requests. The association’s web site is utilized more each year as well as electronic mail to improve communications. We are a partner with states, CSREES, state associations, and National 4-H Council increasing efficiency, advocating our profession and expanding influence. We continue to move to more effective governance which can be utilized by members in their own counties working with local boards and councils. 

As your president-elect I will continue to: 

  • work to improve member services
  • advocate our profession
  • work to improve our associations governance
  • emphasize balancing family and work

Vice-President: Kirk Astroth, Montana

Over the last 15 years, I have been involved in 4-H in three states as a volunteer, as  both an area and state specialist, and as a youth advocate.  I have  served in leadership positions within the Kansas, Montana and the national 4-H associations. I could go through a list of positions held, conferences attended and honors received, but what I think you should know about me is that I am committed to the 4-H youth profession. I also have a 2-year old daughter who keeps me honest about what’s practical and realistic. Theory only goes so far. 

Ever since I began my first professional position with 4-H,  I have been committed to advancing theory and practice of the 4-H youth development profession.  4-H is positive youth development, and I am proud to be a part of this program and an active member of NAE4-HA. I have considered running for a leadership position ever since I was Western Regional Director in 1992, but other commitments commanded my attention (a doctoral degree, planning the 1995 NAE4-HA conference, adopting a child from China, starting 4-H clubs in Latvia and Lithuania). But now the time is right. I am running to be your next 
NAE4-HA Vice-President. Why? As we approach the next millennium, I pledge to provide “Leadership for the Next Century.”  I am committed to- 

  • More open communications and accountability with members
  • Enhancing the profession
  • Improved Relations with our partners
  • Fun

I look forward to the opportunity of serving all members of NAE4-HA and working hard to move us boldly, yet comfortably, into the next century. To learn more about my reasons for running, to provide input or ask questions visit my web site: 

Secretary: Jim Kahler, Maryland

Jim joined NAE4-HA in 1981 and hasn’t missed an NAE4-HA meeting.   Jim was active on the Programs Committee, serving as task force chair, regional contact and Programs 
Committee chair. He is currently Northeast Director, NAE4-HA Webmanager and on the 1999 Conference Committee. 

Jim was a county 4-H Educator for 17 years. He is currently a USDA/Army School-Age and Teen Project Specialist in Washington, DC. Jim was Maryland President and twice treasurer and received the DSA in 1992. 

As we stand on the edge of the next century, we have a sense of the opportunities and challenges that face us in youth development work. NAE4-HA is a critical tool to help prepare us for that future. As in any organization, communication is key – and that is a primary responsibility of NAE4-HA Secretary. 

Just as we must adjust to meet new opportunities and challenges in our programs, so must our professional association. A self-evaluation and planning process for NAE4-HA has begun. This will enable NAE4-HA to more efficiently and effectively meet the needs of membership. Communication among the Board and Association members is essential to a successful outcome. 

I believe that through my service to NAE4-HA as a member and Board member, I can continue to make a positive contribution to the development of this organization and its members. I’d appreciate your consideration as candidate for NAE4-HA Secretary. 

Northeast Director

Michael Martin, Pennsylvania

Michael J. Martin serves as Special Assistant to the Vice President for Outreach and Cooperative Extension at The Pennsylvania State University. In Michael’s twelve years with Extension, he has served as a 4-H agent in Vermont, Pennsylvania, Massachusettes, and County Extension Director in Pennsylvania. His program emphasis is in science 
and technology and international programs.  Michael is a past president of the Pennsylvania Association of Extension 4-H Agents. He also served as the northeast contact for NAE4-HA Member Recognition Committee. 

My career in Cooperative Extension is an outgrowth of my youth as a 4-H member, my international experience with the IFYE program, and my desire to teach (but not be confined to a classroom). I strive to remain actively engaged in professional development opportunities. Lifelong learning is a certainty for those of us in nonformal education. 

I bring a great deal of professional enthusiasm, a positive outlook, and the altruistic desire to truly help others help themselves. Active participation in NAE4-HA through conferences and committees is one way to stay actively engaged in our profession. 

As your regional director, I will share my zeal for our profession at every opportunity. Together, we will continue to make a positive and critical difference in the lives of the young people and volunteers we reach. I encourage each of you to join me in the belief that making one’s best better is a journey, not a destination. 

North Central Regional Director

Kim Mehl, South Dakota 

Kim Mehl, Extension Educator Youth Development/4-H, South Dakota State University Cooperative Extension Service in Rapid City. Over the past four years, Kim has worked with youth development in the Black Hills Area. 

This is Kim’s fifth year as a member of the SDAE4-HA, with leadership roles as Vice President, President-Elect, President, and currently Past President. Kim served on the planning committee for the North Central Regional Breakfast for two years (1996 & 1997); attended PILD and Regional Leadership Workshop. She has attended the past four National Association Meetings in Billings, Grand Rapids, Cincinnati, and Louisville. 


Youth are our future and as members of NAE4-HA we have made a commitment to the development of that future. NAE4-HA gives us resources for new ideas, opportunities to network with other youth professionals, and the chances to share. As the new millennium begins, we will face new challenges in the area of youth development that as a National Association we will need to address. These challenges will become a part of the mission of NAE4-HA and its members. One of the keys to success of any organization is active membership. As Regional Director, I will make it my goal to be one of the voices of the North Central Region. I feel that everyone has ideas that can make our organization better and I would like to help make those ideas a reality. I look forward to the chance to serve as your Regional Director. 

Southern Regional Director (2 positions)

Royce L. James, Georgia

Employed as a County Extension Agent in 1980, Royce’s career immediately launched with program recognition and association involvement. He joined  Georgia and National Agents Associations in the same year. The following year Royce was named GAE4-HA “Outstanding New Agent” and selected to his first leadership responsibility. Currently, with over 19 consistent years of experience, he has received numerous state and national awards, including DSA in 1989; and, has held every state board office. He has attended 9 national conferences, is active on the Programs Committee, has attended 2 Southern Region Leaders Workshops and 3 PILD conferences. 

An Extension Director  once said, “the greatest pay one can get for doing an outstanding job is not in the pay check, but in the fulfillment of knowing you have helped someone.” Another said, “Believe in what you believe in.” 4-H is something that I believe in and my experiences as a 4-H professional has  strengthened my belief that youth work  is one of the most important professions in today’s society, in spite of the pay. 

As we head into the next millennium we must become an organization which recognizes the value and strength of our  association membership as well as the audiences that we work with. We must  recognize that in any good organization change is inevitable. 

We have come to a junction where the decisions made and actions taken will have an impending impact on the future of our organization. I am committed to using my leadership skills and experiences in maintaining effective communication among the state leadership and in representing the   interest of southern region membership on the 
NAE4-HA Board. 

Nita Cooper, Arkansas
Nita Cooper has been a County Extension Agent for 11 years.  She has been a member of NAE4-HA for 10 years, and has served her state Association as President, Vice-President and Secretary.  Nita currently serves her state as chairman of the member recognition committee.  She has attended 8 national meetings, 2 PILD workshops and 1 officer workshop.  Nita has received the Distinguished Service Award and the Achievement in Service Award. 

We face diverse challenges in the 4-H youth education field.  Extension professionals have great demands on their time.  Many professionals are responsible for multi program areas or multi-counties, and we continually work to balance our professional time and our family time.  We are faced with budget constraints, changes in technology, and the need to meet program demands of our clientele. 

Just as we challenge our 4-H members “To Make the Best Better,” I feel we must also challenge ourselves.  NAE4-HA has much to offer youth development professionals.  However, we must continue to work to meet ever changing demands of our field so that we can be as effective as possible.  As your director, I would your voice to the NAE4-HA board.  I belive that is a very important role, and I would appreciate your consideration for Southern Regional Director. 

Western Regional Director

Jeff Goodwin, Idaho
Jeff Goodwin has been an Extension Educator for 17 years and a member of NAE4-HA for 6 years.  Most of his professional career was spent as a county Extension Agent in Texas and has been on the state 4-H Staff in Idaho as of 1996.  He is best known for his work with innovative educational videos, which address the sensitive issue of livestock show ethics.  He has also taken his interest in ethics education to other 4-H project work such as sportfishing and horse projects. 

Goodwin has served as president and president elect of the Idaho 4-H Agents Association and is currently working on the character education and development sub-committee of the NAE4-HA Programs committee.  News & Views also publishes installments of an educational column he writes for Idaho Extension faculty. 

As a 4-H & Youth Specialist in Idaho, I feel my first responsibility is to help 4-H & Youth professionals at the county level (where the rubber meets the road!) be as successful as possible.  Likewise, membership on the NAE4-HA leadership team as Western Region Director would afford me an opportunity on a larger scale to help 4-H & Youth professionals be as successful as possible. 

The first 11 years of my Extension career was spent as a non-NAE4-HA member.  I look back on those 11 years as many opportunities which are now lost forever.  As a result of the lost opportunities of my non-member years, I see a need to convey to all 4-H professionals the benefits and opportunities that await via membership in this organization. 

The sharing of ideas and inspiration among NAE4-HA membership will make us all better youth development professionals.  This is the driving force for my interest in serving as a Western Region Director for the association.  Support of the NAE4-HA membership to enable my pursuits to this end would be greatly appreciated.