‘Country girl’ leads Hertford County 4-H

Published 10:44 am Friday, October 22, 2010

WINTON – Don’t let the fact that Sherry Channell has spent a portion of her life surrounded by the bright lights of big city living, she’s just a simple country girl at heart.

Channell, Hertford County’s newly hired 4-H Agent, is a product of a rural background. She was born and raised in Peck, Michigan, a small town of 600 residents north of Detroit. Her high school graduating class was 32 in number.

She completely understands the hard working, rural environment, especially from an agricultural aspect. Her parents operated a dairy goat farm…meaning she knows exactly where the milk comes from. They milked 100 goats per day by hand.

“I grew-up in 4-H in Michigan,” Channell said. “The programs are a bit different there than here…there they were more centered around the annual county fair.”

She has participated in 4-H livestock projects, the culmination of which was the showing and selling of those animals (goats, pigs and sheep) at the county fair. Here, that is an annual event held in Murfreesboro and involving young people in Hertford and Northampton counties.

Channell was also a member of the Teen Club, a leadership development program.

Despite the passage of years, Channell strongly believes that 4-H of today still remains strong to it agricultural roots.

“Those roots are strong here in Hertford County, the place that gave birth to 4-H in this state just over 100 years ago,” Channell noted. “Sure, programs have been expanded and we do things differently than back then, but our goal is to meet the needs of the kids here in our county, whatever those needs might be.”

Although she is still putting together the programs she feels are needed locally, Channell said the overall focus will be based on healthy lifestyles….nutrition, healthy living….as well as educational avenues that will prepare youth for college or to enter the workforce.

“People tend to think that because I’m a 4-H Agent that I only work with youth, but I do work with the adults to train them to work with the young people within our 4-H clubs,” she said. “That’s the other part of my focus, to train volunteers, to work with volunteers so we can expand the number of 4-H clubs in Hertford County.”

Channell stressed the importance of having several smaller clubs rather than one large group. She is already making the rounds by speaking at civic organization gatherings and with PTO groups in an effort to recruit enough volunteers to allow her idea to unfold of having multiple 4-H clubs in the county.

“I’ve already had some interest in starting new 4-H clubs in the county,” she said.

Growing up, Channell said there were 15-to-20 4-H clubs in her county.

“My grandmother was a 4-H leader,” she recalled. “She was actually one of the first 4-H members in the county. She told me stories of about exhibiting her projects, back before there was a county fair, in the store windows of the businesses in town.

She continued, “I do love 4-H; I feel that it can make a big difference in the lives of our young people. I wouldn’t do this job if I didn’t think that.”

Channell also envisions a strong, day camp program for Hertford County youngsters, one where they can learn about a wide range of activities during the summer months. She also wants to partner with other groups in the county that provide services to youth. School enrichment is another area that Channell believes can be beneficial locally. She has already reached out to the local school system, public and private, as a partner.

“There are already many great programs for young people in Hertford County; I’m in awe of what is already in place,” she said. “I’m also looking to partner closely with the 4-H programs in our neighboring counties on how we pool our resources together.”

The daughter of Shirley Tedford and the late Forrest Dowling, Channell is a 1998 graduate of the University of Tennessee where she earned degrees in Agriculture and Extension Education. In 2008 she received a masters degree in Human Services from Liberty University.

Along the way she has spent 10 years as a 4-H Agent, beginning with a three-year stint in western Tennessee near Memphis, two years in Dearborn County, Indiana and five years in Dinwiddie County, Va.

She was hired on Aug. 2 as Hertford County’s 4-H Agent.

Married to Tim Channell, the couple currently resides in Rocky Hock, located in Chowan County.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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