By Aila Boyd firstname.lastname@example.org
Tyler Painter, a 2004 Lord Botetourt High School graduate, was recently named as Katherine Carter’s replacement as the 4-H agent in Botetourt County following her acceptance of a new position at Virginia Tech earlier in the year.
Like his predecessor, Painter was involved in 4-H growing up. Although he participated in various 4-H related programs, the majority of his involvement was with the camping program. He attended camp as a camper twice, then served as a teen volunteer leader for five years. After graduating high school, he became a certified rifle instructor to help with the 4-H Shooting Education Club, which was just getting started in 2004, but is very active now.
“I have always loved the Botetourt area,” Painter said. “When I saw that Katherine was leaving for a different position, I jumped at the opportunity to put my name in to come back here.”
Painter has spent the past seven years as the 4-H agent in Floyd County. He said that he’s particularly proud of the level of involvement 4-H had with the public schools. Between the months of October and April, he explained, there were 34 in-school 4-H clubs in Floyd.
During the last three years of his time in Floyd, Painter became more involved with career and technical education at Floyd County High School, specifically focusing on workplace readiness by way of preparation of job application materials and mock interviews.
“Having a great working relationship with the school system is probably what I’m most proud of,” Painter said of his time in Floyd County. “What better way to get your program publicized than having people see you and being able to put a name with a face?”
Painter said he hopes to do the same thing in Botetourt County by continuing to build and strengthen school programs.
Prior to becoming the 4-H agent in Floyd County, Painter served as a summer camping staff member for seven summers. Six of the summers were spent at the Skelton Center in Smith Mountain Lake. He spent an additional summer in North Carolina.
Originally, Painter said he thought he wanted to be a camp director. He was dissuaded from that inclination after considering the “long weeks” that are required for such a position.
Even though he decided not to pursue the idea of becoming a camp director, Painter said he has “always loved working with kids.”
Although a hiring freeze was in place at the time that Painter first considered joining 4-H in a professional capacity, he kept the idea of working with kids in mind and was eventually given the opportunity to become the 4-H agent in Floyd County in 2011.
“Working with kids is my calling, so it was a natural fit for me,” Painter said.
“It was very bittersweet,” Painter said of his departure from Floyd County. He added that a lot of the people involved with that 4-H program were sad to see him go, but were excited for him to return to Botetourt to helm the program that had served him as a kid. “It was difficult to say goodbye to, but I feel that the experience I’ve gained through my time there will only help me continue to grow the program here in Botetourt.”
As for what he hopes to accomplish here in Botetourt County, Painter said that he would like to build upon the already active teen leadership program. His desire to do so comes from the notion that teenagers are “the leaders of tomorrow.” When discussing the program, he pointed to the 4-H slogan “true leaders grow here.”
He said he would also like to continue to grow and nurture volunteer programs, something that 4-H in Floyd County took a considerable amount of pride in, he said. Each year, the 4-H programs there participated in 2,000 to 3,000 hours of community service, which allowed the kids involved the opportunity to give back to the community.
Because of his shooting education background, Painter said he’s particularly looking forward to seeing the shooting education club “continue to grow and prosper.”
Painter stressed the notion that going forward, he wants to be as accessible to the community as possible.
“I want people to feel like they can come and talk to me,” he said. “If there is a new club or an activity idea that they are willing to start or volunteer with, I’m all ears. I’m open to new ideas.”
On a personal level, Painter said that 4-H means life skills development.
“The 4-H program provides so many outlets for youth to grow personally whether it’s being away from home for the first time or learning something new,” he said. “There are so many opportunities that are provided to kids to enhance their life skills.”
Painter explained that if it hadn’t been for 4-H, he’s doubtful that he would be where he is today.
“This is my opportunity to give back to a program that gave me so much growing up,” he said. “I want to continue that rich tradition here in Botetourt.”
His involvement in 4-H started 22 years ago.
Painter is a graduate of Virginia Western Community College and Radford University. In the spring of 2018, he received his master’s degree from Virginia Tech.