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New 4-H coordinator arrives in time for Ag Expo

July 17, 2006|by MARLO BARNHART

HAGERSTOWN - While Beth Bubacz freely admits she is a "city girl," the new 4-H development educator at the Maryland Cooperative Extension Service in Washington County said a dairy cow herd changed all that.

"We used to live near a dairy farm and I just couldn't stay away from it," Bubacz said.

Bubacz, 28, arrived here for her new job just in time for this year's Washington County Ag Expo, which opens July 21.

"I will be celebrating my 29th birthday on July 20, the day entries are received and judged," Bubacz said.

She came here from Winston-Salem, N.C., but as a child, she moved around a lot - from city to country to city and back again.

Bubacz picked North Carolina State University to pursue a career in biology. "At one point, I wanted to be a dentist," she said. "I worked for an orthodontist while I was in college."

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But difficulties with chemistry - a requirement in the total science curriculum - forced Bubacz to re-examine her goals.

She then went into animal science, which allowed her to spend time outdoors and still enjoy working with animals.

"I finally whittled it down to extension education," Bubacz said.

She applied for a job as a horticulture agent in Baltimore County and although she didn't get that job, she did meet Jeff Semler, who was on the interview committee.

"Jeff called me when this job was posted," Bubacz said.

Semler, who previously held the position Bubacz now has in Washington County, has been agriculture and natural resources specialist since last September.

Semler will miss this year's Ag Expo, however. He will be in Canada with the Clear Spring High School Envirothon team he helped coach to a state championship.

That event is designed to test students' environmental knowledge and understanding of state resource issues and to instill a desire to learn more about the natural world.

Bubacz and Donielle Inskeep, another extension educator, will be working with the Ag Expo participants in Semler's absence. "Donielle was an intern last summer and worked with Jeff at Ag Expo," Bubacz said.

She and her two children are really looking forward to the event.

Despite an unfamiliarity with 4-H in her youth, Bubacz has big plans in her new role.

"I want to extend our outreach into the community," she said. "I also am interested in developing after-school programs in the schools, at the YMCA and even home day care centers."

Another of her goals is to start a junior master gardener program in Washington County. "The curriculum is similar to the one developed at Texas A&M University," Bubacz said.

Her previous experience includes a stint working with an extension agent in North Carolina and at a Head Start program.

Not totally unfamiliar with this area, Bubacz said she has a cousin in Frederick, Md., whom she has visited often.

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