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New 4-H assistant excited to help kids get creative

As the new 4-H assistant for Russellville and Franklin County, Jennifer Pickens has hit the ground running.

Pickens, a native of Haleyville, started her new job in the Franklin County Extension Office on January 9, and she has already adjusted and latched on to her new position.

“I love it,” she said. “I love hanging out with the kids, and they’re excited. You get to take them away from their teacher for an hour and teach them all this great stuff. Them getting excited makes me excited.”

Pickens, a 2006 graduate of Bevill State Community College, was working as a medical assistant before landing her current job. As someone who always wanted to go into education, Pickens enjoys being around the students and teaching them creative ways to better themselves and the community.

“4-H is all about teaching kids respect and helping others and getting them used to real world. We take care of the community and give back to the community,” she said. “And it’s really cool to see kids get creative. 4-H opens their mind to different things and forces them to use their imagination.”

So far in 2017, 4-H members have already worked on or begun a number of projects. Many of the projects require responsibility or creativity.

“Last month we made a hanging wreath and put pictures on it, and we took it to hospice,” she said. “We also have what’s called Chick Chain. They can buy their own chickens and they have to take care of them and raise those chickens. They have to clean them and feed them and bathe them.”

The 4-H program is continuously providing more projects and fun activities. One of the upcoming activities is called the $15 Challenge.

“The $15 Challenge is where the girls or guys go through the thrift store and spend $15. Their entire outfit has to be $15,” she said. “Then they’ll come here and model it. We’ll have a makeshift runway and they’ll model their $15 outfit which is pretty cool and fun.”

The club also holds activities so non-members can also get involved and partake in the fun.

“Every second Saturday of the month from 10:00 a.m. till 2:00 p.m. we go to the Cedar Hill Trap Range located on Highway 84, and the children come out and shoot clay disc,” she said. “4-H offers this to any one who is interested and you do not have to be in 4-h to participate.”

As she settles in to the position for the long run, Pickens has clear goals she wants to accomplish with the 4-H students.

“I want the kids to feel more involved,” she said. “I don’t want them to feel like they have to do it because their mama signed them up for it. I want them to be excited and I want them to be excited about being creative -- like, ‘I made this and I get to show it off.’”

The Franklin County Extension Office is located in the basement of the Franklin County Courthouse. For more information about the Russellville and Franklin County 4-H program, individuals may call the Franklin County Extension Office at 256-332-8880.

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