For more than three decades, Kathy Finley has helped to shape thousands of local youth through her roll as an extension agent with the UT Extension Office of Robertson County.
On Dec. 30, the agency hosted a proclamation ceremony for her retirement.
Finley grew up in Robertson County. She was a 4-H member from the 4th grade until she graduated from high school. She attended the University of Tennessee, where she was a volunteer leader.
When Finley returned to Robertson County, she did some volunteering, and was asked to step into a temporary role as a program assistant for 4-H. That six-month job turned into a 31-year career.
“I have a heart for 4-H. I believe it’s a positive youth development organization,” said Finley.
According to the proclamation and her peers, including County Mayor Billy Vogle who was present at the ceremony to present the proclamation, Finley has dedicated so much to The Robertson County community and its young people. As a result, she has truly lived out the 4-H motto: To Make the Best Better.
Finley spearheaded club meetings, teaching communication skills through public speaking, poster art and demonstration contests, and trained future leaders through officer elections.
Furthermore, she has brought many unique programs to Robertson County, including a 4-H Interstate Exchange where students in Robertson County travel to and host 4-Hers’ from different states. Also, the Acting for Life Improv drama troupe made up of Robertson County high school students presenting common preteen and teen issues such as bullying, tobacco use and mental health disorders.
She always served Robertson County by identifying where there were issues and worked to create solutions, such as the need for an afterschool program at Springfield Middle School that she and the UT Extension Human Development Specialists worked to implement. It is still in operation today.
Altogether, Finley’s impact extends beyond 4-H club meetings to the positive character development of countless Robertson County youth through her 30 years of service.
“I was very honored to have the proclamation. It was a really special thing. It was a surprise. I didn't realize this is what my co-workers were doing and I appreciate Mayor Vogle coming over and making a presentation. It was really an honor to be recognized like that. I appreciate the County and community I’ve worked in all these years,” said Finely.
Finley plans to continue to support the 4-H of Robertson County Program and she said there may be some opportunities to return to volunteering in the future.
“If that happens that would be nice. I will continue to encourage young people to be involved in 4-H,” said Finley.
Officially, UT Extension serves Robertson County citizens with educational programs in the areas of Agriculture, Family and Consumer Sciences, Community Resource Development and 4-H Youth Development. UT Extension is an outreach branch of the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture, providing research-based solutions and information.