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Former 4-H member finds 'great career' with Cooperative Extension in Washington County

April 01, 2008|By JANET HEIM

KEEDYSVILLE -- The influence of 4-H on Mary Ellen Waltemire's life is immeasurable.

The Howard County, Md., farm girl was an active 4-H member, then chose a career with Maryland Cooperative Extension, a job that seemed a perfect fit for her 4-H experience and education.

With a bachelor's degree in home economics, a master's degree in psychology and an M.B.A., Waltemire has honed her skills to suit the diversity of her career.

Waltemire began as an extension educator for MCE in 1976 and is now the regional extension director for the Maryland Cooperative Extension west region, based in Keedysville. She is a proponent of the basic philosophy of 4-H - learning by doing - and helping youths develop life skills, with a focus on community involvement.

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"It's been a great career," Waltemire said.

Her position now involves leadership, management and supervisory roles.

Waltemire said her job involves statewide travel to work with the 350 state cooperative extension employees, as well as U.S. travel to national professional development conferences.

Community involvement is a driving force for Waltemire. She went through Leadership Washington County as a participant and has been on its board for more than three years.

"People have said leaders are born, not made. I disagree. You can be a leader and not be up front all the time. You can learn those skills and practice those skills," Waltemire said.

She recently was the moderator for the annual strategic planning meeting for SAFE Place, the Washington County Child Advocacy Center. Her task was to help board members come up with a workable plan for the future.

"Cooperative extension works with organizations to improve quality of life," Waltemire said.

Waltemire, 54, was also a Big Sister through Big Brothers Big Sisters for six years, was on the Charter Home Rule Task Force board and provides training for a variety of Washington County boards and organizations.

Her involvement allows for a great deal of interaction with a variety of people, and Waltemire said that is something on which she thrives.

She and her husband, Chuck, have been married almost 30 years and have two grown children. They live in Hagerstown.

Waltemire said she loves learning new things and likes to take classes for fun. She also enjoys spending time in the kitchen, especially making desserts.

Regular exercise, which includes playing tennis, as well as reading and spending time with her husband, children and friends are other favorite pastimes.

For more information on Maryland Cooperative Extension or Leadership Washington County, visit their Web sites at www.extension.umd.edu or www.leadershipwashingtoncounty.org.

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