(La Porte County, IN) - There’s a new contract between Purdue Extension and La Porte County government.
The agreement comes after numerous 4-H volunteers, upset with the new style of leadership in place at the La Porte County Extension office, began leaving last year.
Many 4-H volunteers described the new leaders as cold and heavy-handed in their management style.
La Porte County Commission President Sheila Matias said the terms of the contract haven’t changed from previous agreements. However, she believes new leaders that seem to relate better to the 4-H volunteers are now in place at the Extension office.
“My understanding is the volunteers are very pleased, and they’re building relationships with the new staff,” Matias said.
Volunteers were also upset that attempts were being made to replace some of the longstanding 4-H programs with new offerings for local youth.
Matias said the 4-H program statewide would see a change in what’s offered to youth, and those decisions are from upper-level decision makers at Purdue Extension, which is headquartered at the West Lafayette campus.
Last year, La Porte County officials threatened to cut funding to the local Purdue Extension branch unless new leadership was in place because of the alarming rate of volunteers walking away from the program.
The departures raised doubts about whether the 4-H program could continue as strongly as it has in the past.
Matias said children are the key to the future, and making sure the 4-H program continues to make a positive difference in the lives of youth in areas like leadership is a top priority.
“Obviously, I’ll keep my eye on it as well as my fellow commissioners. We want to preserve what’s good about it, and the things that weren’t working, we want to move past that,” Matias said.