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4H welcomes new agent with new building PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 21 October 2017 10:01


• Leader & Times

Seward County’s K-State Research and Extension office welcomed a new building and a new agent to the community Friday.

A few years ago, the original 4-H building on the fairgrounds was torn down, mostly due to mold conditions inside the facility. Friday, Extension workers, including 4-H and ag agent Kylee Harrison, greeted community members in a new building for the local youth program.

Harrison said the new building is the result of the work of many people and several years come to fruition.

“The commissioners were ready to put some money towards the good kids, as they say, instead of always putting the money towards the bad kids,” she said. “That was the thought process behind this building. It’s really something that’s been in the mindset, I think, of the commission for a long time, and we were just able to actually finally put everything in motion and get it done.”

With many people putting in the effort to make the building a reality, Harrison said it was quite a team putting in the work to make Friday’s open house possible.

“It came back to us with a lot of the design input and things like that, but without the county input, they were the primary financial backers behind it, there’s no way we ever could’ve done anything like this,” she said. “Huge team effort amongst everybody.”

With the recent retirement of longtime Extension Family and Consumer Sciences (FACS) Agent Kathy Bloom, the office likewise welcomed a new agent to that position Friday in Mirna Bonilla.

Harrison called getting both the building and Bonilla was good timing for the Extension

“Everything fit all it once, and a whole bunch of firsts for the office all at one time,” the ag agent said. “We can kind of just all learn together.”

Harrison said some things will change with the new building and the new agent, but others will likely stay the same.

“Just because you have a new building does not necessarily mean any different programming,” she said. “Different programming may come as a result of a new agent having her new ideas and things like that. As far as the traditional things that we’ve done, most will continue to do.”

Prior to the arrival of the new 4-H building, local youth had to have their events in a variety of buildings around town, and with the new facility just a few steps away from the Extension office, Harrison said the building provides convenience for both the agency’s staff and the young people in 4-H.

“We’ll be able to store some of our stuff over here now and leave it set up,” she said. “If we have an ongoing program for a couple of days, we won’t have to worry about booking that and taking up space with another building. We’ll have our own space where we’ll be able to leave things set up or just organize things however we want to. It’ll be very convenient for us.”

Harrison said Friday’s open house and welcome for Bonilla means the Extension has met most of what is necessary to operate its programs.

“Our wants and needs are fulfilled right now most definitely,” she said. 

As for the FACS agent, Bonilla is a Liberal native and graduate of Liberal High School. She has a bachelor’s degree in family studies and human services from K-State and is currently working on a master’s in family community service.

“By December of next year, I should graduate with my master’s degree,” she said.

Bonilla brings a wealth of experience to her new job, working previously in the Manhattan office of the Kansas Department of Children and Families and as a mental health case worker in Missouri for the past three years.

Bonilla said she loves working with families, a big part of her new job.

“I love the interactions and learning more about the interactions and dynamics of families and what makes them work,” she said. “Essentially, that’s what’s going to build our society. I’ve always worked with families. I love children, but I’m excited to learn more about the community and the different agencies here in town.”

Bonilla officially began her job earlier this month, and she is still in the process of training.

“The first week I was here, I actually attended the SNAP-ED conference,” she said. “I was there for about three or four days, and Friday, I believe it was the 6th, was my first day in the office. This past week, I’ve just been going through what type of different programs and talking to people about different things they have done in the community.”

Bonilla said one of her primary goals as an FACS agent is learning more about the Liberal community, particularly its people, agencies and the programs those people would like to see from her as an Extension agent.

“The exercising, the health, more programs for families and nutrition are really something that people look forward to,” she said. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to get those more in place.”

As with Harrison and Bloom, 4-H will be likewise be a part of Bonilla’s job, and she said wants to be involved with the program’s youth. She also would like to continue some of the Extension’s more popular programs.

“I really hear that the Dining with Diabetes was really popular,” Bonilla said. “Some of the exercise classes that were happening with the senior center, that was really popular. Going back more back into that, and building off of what Kathy has built.”

With Liberal’s multicultural atmosphere, Bonilla said one of her other goals is meeting people in those cultures, learning their traditions and making them feel comfortable.

“The whole purpose in meeting people is just so they can also put a face to it,” she said. “Having more different clientele come and use the programs, a major goal that I really want to work on as well is bringing the whole community together and having more involvement. Liberal is a very diverse community.”

This includes learning about the difference between Liberal’s cultures.

“Family is a huge part of the Latino community,” Bonilla said. “Even developing programs that interest them, that help them grow as families together is something that I want to further pursue.”

Getting information out to the public about programs, Bonilla feels, will likewise play a big part in the success of future Extension programs.

“I think it’s going to have to be a lot of also making sure that the word is out there, putting flyers out in Spanish, making sure that people know that and just getting to know the different cultures that are in Liberal,” she said. “It’s not just the Latino community that’s here. I want to learn more about different agencies that are around here, what clientele they serve and getting to know them.”




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