GLADWIN – Bev Przystas retired July 1, 2020 after 41 years and four months. She started her career as the Gladwin County 4-H Program Assistant March 1, 1979. She was hired by former County Extension Director, Jim Thews and 4-H Youth Agent, Dan Blackledge. During this 10-year stint as the local 4-H connection, she grew the program with over 350 4-H members, 70 plus volunteer leaders and many 4-H school programs were offered.
Working with the newly reformed fair board, which started back up in 1976, she remembers the youth taking their sale animals to the grandstand via trucks and/or walking their steers from the barn to be sold on auction night. Also, the 4-H still exhibit barn used to be a tent with partitions to finally, a building for the 4-H youth to show their still exhibits such as crafts, foods, sewing, woodworking and many more. She remembers helping the 4-H horse leaders peel the cedar posts for the first horse arena.
She was able to coordinate many regional and county 4-H fitting and showing workshops at the Gladwin County Fairgrounds to help the youth gain new skills in their 4-H projects.
Ten years later, Carolyn C. Bay, County Extension Director, at that time, went to the county Board of Commissioners to ask for funding to make the 4-H program assistant a 4-H youth agent position. This was granted, and then Bev applied for this position and was hired for this new role in 1989.
Bev was active state-wide on many State 4-H committees and regional programs, such as 4-H Leadermete for volunteer leaders and teen leaders. She was also actively involved in 4-H camp programs including camp counselor trainings, camp director, recreation leader, etc.
In 1994, Bev became the interim County Extension Director for Gladwin County. Her love for 4-H kept her from not applying for this position, but after two years, she felt she could work with 4-H and also be the CED, so she was hired in 1996 and kept this position until July 1, 2010 when Michigan State University Extension began new transitions and the county extension director roles were removed.
Bev continued as an Extension Educator for Children and Youth which included 4-H programming. She was a member of the Academic Success statewide work team where she co-chaired the Life Skills committee.
She also was a 4-H Supervisor for five counties overseeing five 4-H program coordinators for a couple of years. She continued on two work teams until she transitioned to just the CEWP, Career Exploration, Workforce Prep work team where she worked with kids on money management, financial literature, entrepreneurship, work force development for after school programs, camps, foster youth programs, and state wide 4-H youth and volunteer trainings.
As a professional educator, she attended many national 4-H conferences around the United States and helped host two national conferences in Michigan, one in Detroit and one in Grand Rapids.
Bev served on the Michigan Association of 4-H Youth Staff as President and Secretary and on the Michigan Council of Extension Agents board as Secretary, Treasurer and served as membership chair of the ESP, the honorary fraternity of Extension workers for more than eight years. She received the Michigan 4-H Distinguished award and the National 4-H Distinguished award along with the National 4-H Meritorious award.
She has made some great friendships with youth and the volunteer leaders who have given hours of their time to work with youth in Gladwin County, where 4-H still has an active ongoing program.
Bev will continue to support the 4-H youth program in her retirement years. Through MSU Extension study abroad programs, she was able to go to South Africa and just recently went to Belize back in March. When able, she will continue her travel experiences to new adventures.
Her children, Scott and Katelyn, and their spouses, along with her six grandchildren, are sure to keep her busy, along many friends will keep her schedule full. Bev is still looking forward to helping out with her parents who still on the family farm.
Bev would like to thank the many supporters of the Gladwin County 4-H program and the MSU Extension programs offered. The local businesses have been so great and have supported the 4-H youth program in so many ways, trips to Washington D.C., 4-H camps, fair sponsors, fair auctions, and school conservation tours. Her co-workers are continuing to do the best they can. Also, with two mileages passed to continue the support of MSU Extension in the county, she is very appreciative of everyone who voted and helped to pass these mileages.
Her family plans to have a retirement open house in the future.