4-H and Youth

Andrea Mender Mender_Andrea

WVU Extension Agent –
4-H Youth Development, Fayette County

When it comes to educating and preparing youth to take on leadership roles, Andrea Mender, Fayette County’s West Virginia University Extension 4-H Youth-Development agent, has the knowledge, experience and passion to ensure that youth of West Virginia are the best they can be.

“Young people of our state have so much to offer, and often times aren’t given the opportunity to participate, make decisions or use their talent and abilities; organizations like 4-H help youth in finding ways to make things happen,” Mender explains.

Having prior experience with youth, youth leadership and civic organizations throughout the state, Mender is able to apply what she’s learned in her current role at WVU Extension.

At many levels, youth in 4-H have unique opportunities to learn new skills, partake in events and build friendships that last a lifetime.

“From county, state and national events and activities, youth have the chance to learn valuable life, social and professional skills being a member of 4-H,” she says.

Mender makes clear that although she is a youth-development instructor, it’s truly rewarding when children become so proficient in a skill that the teacher and student roles are reversed.

“I love when I have the opportunity to tell a 3rd grader that they were the teacher and not me,” she says. “When the Essential Elements are practiced in the lives of young people, it really pays off in building competent, resilient individuals.”

The Essential Elements are eight key factors that help 4-H youth cross the bridge between childhood and adulthood. Some of these factors include generosity, independence and mastery. These Elements, which are a core component of 4-H, help youth transition into successful adults.

Mender has been a WVU Extension agent since 2011, creating opportunities for youth to take on active leadership roles in their community.

“Some of my goals for youths in 4-H are that they choose a positive life path, learn valuable life skills and take an active role in their communities.”

Mender has served as an advisor for the 4-H Foundation, 4-H Leader’s Association and Fayette County Teen Leaders organization.

She is also the Fayette County contact for Energy Express, an award-winning summer reading and nutrition program for youths. The program helps kids avoid the “summer slide” in reading levels and nutritional well-being by providing instruction, books and meals during the summer—free of charge.

Mender has been a member of the National Camping Institute Planning Committee, West Virginia Association of Extension 4-H Agents and the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents.

She graduated Magna cum laude from Emory and Henry College in Virginia with a bachelor’s degree in Public Policy and Community Service. She later earned a master’s degree in Public Administration from West Virginia University.

To reach Mender, e-mail andrea.mender@mail.wvu.edu or call 304-574-4253.