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EDUCATOR SPOTLIGHT: Dea Rash
My name is Dea Rash and on May 20, 1991, I began my career with the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service so I have been employed with OCES in Payne County for 24 years. I am currently the Payne County FCS/4-H Extension Educator. When I joined the OCES in 1991, I was one of two full-time 4-H Educators in Payne County. In August, 2003, I was named the Payne County FCS/4-H Educator when the former FCS Educator retired.
One program that I enjoy teaching is Youth Cooking School. I enjoy working with children to teach them important life skills. “Cooking Together is Fun” is a one-day class where youth learn about food and kitchen safety; learn to read a recipe; learn about the MyPlate nutrition model; and learn the importance of proper hand washing. The Cooking School is a hands-on program where youth prepare and eat the recipes they make that day as a tasting lunch. Each participant also receives a cookbook of all recipes prepared that day.
I was a charter member of the team that developed the PRIDE Customer Service program in 1994. The program began as Payne County PRIDE and the curriculum was developed by four Extension professionals and a member of Payne County Economic Development. I have co-taught numerous PRIDE customer service programs and PRIDE “Train the Trainer” workshops throughout the state. In 2007, the program was renamed Oklahoma PRIDE and it continues to be a highly requested statewide program today. Even though the program is now 21 years old, PRIDE is still one of my favorite programs to teach because customer service is such an important part of a successful business model.
One of the new programs I enjoy co-teaching is “Co-Parenting for Resilience”, the court-mandated program for divorcing parents with minor children. I have only been teaching this program for six months but the information shared with parents who take this class is so critical to have a positive outcome for the children. We have heard many positive comments and beneficial things learned from parents and I know we are making a difference in the lives of those who take the class so I know we are also making a difference in the lives of their children.
Several factors helped influence my career choice with OCES. Joining 4-H when I was nine years old was an expectation for me. I was an active 9-year 4-H member in Grant County where I enjoyed working on my main 4-H projects, Home Management and Dairy Foods. I was named a national winner in Home Management and I was a member of the Oklahoma 4-H Hall of Fame Blue Award Group. I also completed numerous other 4-H FCS projects and learned valuable life skills which have helped make me the person I am today. Public Speaking, Citizenship, Leadership and Recordkeeping are all life skills that I would not have gained without my participation in the 4-H program.
When choosing my college major, Home Economics (now Human Sciences) seemed like the perfect fit for me. My grandmother and mother both received their Home Economics degrees from OSU so I was a third-generation Home Economics graduate. My grandmother was a Home Demonstration Agent and numerous family members for many generations have been 4-H and OHCE members so my Extension roots run very deep.
Helping and teaching others is another important aspect of what I learned in 4-H and something I truly enjoy doing. Therefore, when I was given the opportunity to work with 4-H and youth through OCES, it was an ideal situation. For the past 24 years, I have enjoyed sharing research-based, unbiased, accurate information and knowledge with people in Payne County and teaching life skills and educational programs through hands-on learning for audiences of all ages. I have seen first-hand the positive difference that Extension, 4-H and Oklahoma Home & Community Education (OHCE) programs can make in the lives of the people in Payne County and that is what makes my job so rewarding.