Extension Office welcomes Heather Vierling to the 4-H Youth Development program

By Kelsie Hoitomt

BALDWIN — The St. Croix County Extension office welcomed a new face last week as Heather Vierling settled into her office as the new 4-H Youth Development Agent.

Heather comes to the St. Croix County office after spending eight years in Rusk County as the 4-H Youth Development educator there.

She was born in Portland, Oregon and lived there for a few short years until her family moved to the Green Bay area.

They lived in Seymour on the outskirts of town, but she traveled into the city for school and then graduated from Southwest High School in 2001.

When she was 16 years old, her parents bought land and built a stable so they could have horses and board as well.

Heather has a real love for horses and that carried throughout her high school days and into her life since raising Arabians as a teenager.

4-H was not popular in the area she grew up in, but FFA was a big deal. She was drawn to the program instantly and stuck in for the full seven years, receiving her FFA American Degree in 2002.

After graduation, she packed up and said good-bye because she was out the door to California. Heather wanted to experience something different so enrolled at California State Polytechnic University-Pomona, which is on the outskirts of Los Angeles.

Because of her love of horses, she began studying Equine Science, but quickly realized it was not for her so she switched to Agricultural Science.

After four years, Heather graduated with her Bachelor’s Degree, which enabled her to be proficient in nine areas of agriculture.

Heather’s goal was to be an Ag. Science instructor, which meant one more year of school so she enrolled at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.

She had to take one more year of school because in California, the Bachelor’s Degree does not include a teacher’s certificate.

So she was faced with a choice of either receiving that certificate with one year of school or earning a Master’s Degree.

So she went for the Master’s and in 2006 she graduated with an Agricultural Education Degree with an emphasis in Industry and Extension.

It was during her student teaching time that she decided she wanted to work in Extension. This way should could be out of the classroom, but still able to work with youth and teach them not only about agriculture, but basically every topic of life.

Her main focus is the 4-H program and working with each club in the county, which there are around 800 youth participants and close to 200 volunteer leaders in St. Croix County.

She also does outreach education in the community, which can bring her into the schools, working with countywide youth coalitions, to the county fair, and more.

There is a big difference in participant numbers between Rusk and St. Croix County, which has Heather extra excited for the opportunities that lie ahead.

She has only been in the office for a week now, but the wheels are turning as to ideas she can bring and share with the youth of the county.

Heather is in her office at the Baldwin location during the week and can be contacted for questions or inquiries by phone at 715-684-3301 or email at heather.vierling@ces.uwex.edu