by Kim Cameron
Grand County tapped its own talent recently with the hire of two key positions within the CSU Extension Office. Olivia Clark is the new CSU Extension Director and is already familiar with the county.
She first became acquainted with the county a decade ago as a seasonal worker at a guest ranch. While here she met her husband, Kremmling local Brian Clark, and they now have a toddler-aged daughter.
Olivia has extensive experience in customer service and working with the public. For the last four years, she has worked in range management with the Bureau of Land Management. She now embraces the diversity of her position as the CSU Extension Director.
The original extension services were established by the Colorado State University as a cooperative adult education on part of the federal, state and county governments. It also served as a community resource. Grand County’s enter this position and assess the needs of each program. In this new environment we are all experiencing, there are changes occurring that require thoughtfulness and creativity to continue current programming,” says Olivia.
On Monday, she began the first day of her new position in Zoom meetings with Colorado State University, outlining creative ways to continue the 4-H program, possibly throughout June, with no face-to-face contact with 4-H members.
Even though the 4-H program currently looks very different than her time as a 4-H member with her projects in sheep, hogs, cattle, dogs, horses and shooting sports, she addresses the immediate problems positively, “Our department is facing some interesting challenges with the COVID-19 pandemic, as everyone is, and we are finding ways to overcome these obstacles. We are cooperating with other counties and groups to come up with innovative solutions to complete the functions and activities that are important to our program. We are really finding there are great ways to meet our objectives, including doing Zoom meetings and communicating by phone and email.”
The extension office has already planned to do a virtual tag-in of sheep, goat and swine projects in May. The extension office will then do the real tag-in later when the bans are lifted.Lacy was having with the kids and thought it was a great opportunity to be more involved,” Karli says of her decision to apply for her new position, and as the veteran member of the extension team she will offer some continuity in services.
The extension office is still doing classroom projects with a Granby teacher who is finishing an embryology unit and hatching eggs. She shares the project with her students through video chats and plans to begin a butterfly unit soon where her students will watch the stages of a butterfly.
Karli also continues to plan the popular summer camps that are open to everyone in the community even if they are not enrolled in 4-H. The popular programs treat kids ages 5-18 to interesting field trips, hands-on learning, and then finish with swimming lessons. She confesses she loves the hands-on learning aspect of 4-H and their summer camps and believes it can help kids to identify their strengths, what they are drawn to, and eventually help identify future careers.
She herself has always loved having her animals and has even showed Scottish Highlanders at the National Western Stock Show in her youth. While she was growing up, her family always owned horses, cats, dogs and even goats. She now lives in Kremmling with her husband and two sons and continues her love of animals.
Currently, they have a menagerie – a dog, cat, rabbit, chickens and a bearded dragon.
Beyond the livestock projects, Karli says, “It is exciting to see
all the different projects and all the ways kids can be involved in 4-H. I don’t think people realize
all 4-H offers and I really want to focus on growing the program.”
“The opportunities and benefits of 4-H are limitless,” she adds.
She hopes to bring awareness of all the possible projects to the east end of the county and see more participation from youth there. The west end of the county tends to be more involved in 4-H, Karli notes.
She was disappointed that 4-H enrollment is now over for this year’s Middle Park Fair & Rodeo, but will be gearing up for when enrollment opens again in October. For now though, she says positively, “We are planning for Fair in August. We want our kids to be able to exhibit their projects.”
The CSU Extension Office is located in Kremmling at the Grand County Fairground site. The main office number is 970-724-3436. CSU Extension Director Olivia Clark can also be reached at Olivia.K.Clark@ colostate.edu and 4-H and School Enrichment Coordinator Karli Tonneson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.