Recent appointments at the Panhandle Center and Panhandle Extension District
Extension educator for 4-H youth development Cheyenne, Deuel counties
Laura Narjes of Sidney has been appointed Extension Educator in 4-H Youth Development for Nebraska Extension, based in Sidney.
Her appointment was announced by Extension Educator Karen DeBoer, unit leader. Narjes began her duties on June 26, replacing Cynthia Gill, who resigned in 2018. She will serve Cheyenne and Deuel counties, providing support and leadership for regional, and statewide, 4-H youth development programs in science education, animal science, agricultural literacy, career development, community development, and healthy living. She will work in collaboration with other extension personnel, as well as other Nebraska Extension experts, in addition to individuals, families, schools and communities, including advisory committees and local stakeholders.
Narjes received a master’s degree in business administration from Wayne State College, in addition to a bachelor’s degree in accounting at Wayne State. She has been an assistant professor at Northeastern Junior College since January 2018, lecturing and designing and developing business courses for both the classroom and on-line settings. In that role, she also was an academic advisor to students and sponsor of the Business club.
She has worked with young people in a variety of settings: Ag in the Classroom coordinator, Teammates mentor, Sunday school teacher, and assistant high-school girls’ basketball coach. Prior to her time at NJC, she worked in several areas, including in Cabela’s corporate business operations in Sidney. She also worked at a livestock and crop operation.
She is a Gurley native and a lifelong Cheyenne County resident. Her husband, Ryan, a co-owner of a farming-ranching operation, also has lived in the area his entire life. They have two children, Weston, 5, and Leanna, 2.
“I am excited to meet our 4-H families and see all of the projects at fair in the next month!” Narjes said. “I also look forward to growing the 4-H program and supporting our area youth.”
DeBoer said, “Laura brings a wealth of experience and talent to the Extension Educator position. She is a valuable addition to the Cheyenne and Deuel counties’ 4-H programs because of her passion for agriculture and love for teaching.”
Jack Whittier, Director of Research and Extension for the Panhandle Extension District, said, “We are pleased to have Laura join us with Nebraska Extension. Filling this position after it has been vacant for a while with a person of Laura’s skills and experience will help the 4-H and youth programs in this region of the state immensely.”
Extension Educator-4-H Youth Development in Scottsbluff
Nathan Rice has been appointed Extension Educator in 4-H Youth Development for Nebraska Extension, based in Scottsbluff.
His appointment was announced by Dr. Jack Whittier, Director of Research and Extension for the Panhandle. Rice began his duties in May and will be based at the Extension Office in Scottsbluff. He will serve Scotts Bluff, Kimball and Banner counties, providing support and leadership for regional, and statewide, 4-H youth development programs in science education, animal science, agricultural literacy, career development, community development, and healthy living.
He will work in collaboration with other extension personnel faculty, as well as closely with other Nebraska Extension experts, in addition to individuals, families, schools and communities, including advisory committees and local stakeholders.
Rice received a master of science degree in ag and biological systems engineering from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in December 2018, in addition to a bachelor of science degree in biological systems engineering from UNL in 2016.
From December 2018 until starting in the Panhandle, he was a temporary state program coordinator in 4-H Youth Development, coordinating implementation and delivery of 4-H state programs STEMentors and InMoov. While pursuing his master’s degree, he was a graduate research assistant in the UNL Extension and Biological Engineering Department, leading work on an NSF grant to educate youth about agriculture sustainability and systems thinking through immersive simulation game environments.
A Morrill native, he was very active in 4-H while growing up, including livestock, photography, decorative arts and horticulture, as a member of the Panhandle Livestock Club in Scotts Bluff County.
“We are very excited to have Nathan join our ranks in Extension in the Nebraska Panhandle,” Whittier said. “He has already proven his prowess for 4-H and youth development through his early career as a graduate student and youth himself. His local roots give him an immediate connection and appreciation for the Panhandle culture. Nathan will be a great addition to the Scotts Bluff, Kimball and Banner county 4-H team.”
Rice’s agricultural background includes working on ranches in western Nebraska and he maintains close ties to the area’s ag sector.
Looking ahead to his role as Educator, Rice said he would love to help new 4-H members with any kind of activity, whether traditional or new. This includes livestock projects, especially learning how to feed them and apply nutritional plans, as well as other traditional project areas such as photography and cooking.
He’s also excited about bolstering STEM activities in clubs and after-school settings, such as robotics, game design and programming. There might be opportunities to bring in new tech activities such as aquaponics and nanotechnology, and possibly start 4-H clubs devoted to them.
Rice said he’s also enthused about the opportunity to show young people the “most beautiful part of the state” in the Panhandle and show what UNL researches are doing here in beef production, cropping systems, and other research areas. Ultimately, he would like to get young people interested in pursuing a degree at UNL.
4-H Extension Assistant in Box Butte County
Ashley Fenning of Bayard has been appointed 4-H Extension Assistant for Box Butte County, based in Alliance.
Fenning is responsible for planning and implementing educational programming for 4-H youth in Box Butte County, with the aim of helping youth develop leadership skills, citizenship, responsibility and life skills. She will work in collaboration with leaders and community volunteers to develop an effective volunteer network to support and carry out the 4-H and youth programming. In addition, she will be developing and carrying out complimentary programming for youth not directly involved in 4-H, such as school enrichment, after-school, or in-service day projects.
Fenning is currently the office manager and program assistant for Morrill County Extension at Bridgeport, a position she has held since September 2017. She received a bachelor’s degree in general biology in 2017 from Chadron State College. Prior to receiving her degree she was a 4-H intern for Scotts Bluff County Extension. She graduated from Bridgeport High School. In addition to playing basketball in high school and college (for Western Nebraska Community College and Colorado Mesa University), she has coached high-school and junior-high volleyball.
Her work and intern experience with county extension involves frequent work with youth-related programs and activities, including county fairs. She will be replacing Deb Kraenow, who worked for 12 years as Box Butte County 4-H Assistant.
Extension educator for Food, Nutrition and Health in Morrill County
Tammie Ostdiek has accepted an offer to serve as Extension Educator in Food, Nutrition and Health for Nebraska Extension, based in Morrill County.
Her acceptance was announced by Dr. Jack Whittier, Director of Research and Extension for the Panhandle. She is scheduled to begin her duties June 6, 2018, after completing her duties as a teacher in Goshen County, Wyo.
Ostdiek will be based at the Extension Office in Bridgeport and will serve Morrill, Scotts Bluff, Banner, Kimball, Cheyenne, Deuel and Garden counties, as well as statewide. She will teach and coordinate food, nutrition and health programs regionally in nutrition education and health promotion; food safety education; and food literacy. The primary targeted audience includes youth up to age 18 and the adults who influence them.
She will work in collaboration with other UNL research and extension faculty, as well as closely with other Nebraska Extension experts, in addition to individuals, families, schools and communities.
Ostdiek has taught family and consumer science for the past four years at Goshen County, Wyo., dividing time between Lingle-Fort Laramie and Southeast School at Yoder. Prior to that she taught FCS for more than 30 years at Bluffs Middle School in Scottsbluff.
A Sidney native, she grew up in Sidney and Broadwater, graduating from Bridgeport High School. She received a bachelor’s degree in home economics education and a master’s degree in human resources and family sciences from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She has a husband, Dave, and two grown children.