Nistler Named 4-H Youth Development State Program Leader

June 28, 2019, 9:46 am | John Lawrence, Chad Higgins, Laura Sternweis

Deborah Nistler.AMES, Iowa – Deborah Nistler has been named 4-H youth development state program leader for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. Her appointment begins Aug. 15.

Currently Nistler is the state civic engagement and 4-H legislature program coordinator for University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension, as well as extension director for Bradford County.

ISU Vice President for Extension and Outreach John Lawrence said Nistler brings valuable experience to the Iowa 4-H position.

“Dr. Nistler has 16 years of experience with Florida 4-H and extension programs. Her expertise includes youth civic and leadership development, volunteer development, evaluation and program development, and challenge team-building with teens, adults and diverse groups,” Lawrence said.

“4-H Youth Development builds skills in young people so they’re ready for college and careers. 4-H also provides young Iowans with community service opportunities and prepares them as future young professionals for our state. We look forward to Dr. Nistler leading our Iowa 4-H program forward and continuing our commitment to serving all Iowa youth,” Lawrence said.

In Iowa and nationally, 4-H is working to better reflect the population demographics and diverse needs of young people. The goal includes serving at least 1 in 5 youth with volunteers and staff who mirror the diversity of the population.

“Diversity exists in this state, and we can reach some of those diverse audiences that we haven’t reached before,” Nistler said during her interview. “We have to really be in those communities.”

Nistler said she wants all Iowa youth and their families to know that 4-H is a safe space where all youth can belong. 4-H youth development programs are high quality and age appropriate and should reflect the diversity of local communities. She also wants youth to understand that in 4-H, they are partners in their learning.

“Youth know what they want to do. Youth understand what they’re passionate about. We just have to figure out how to channel that,” Nistler said. “What are the needs? What are the interests and opportunities?”

Iowa 4-H has a strong mission and vision, Nistler continued. Staff and volunteers are passionate about 4-H and get excited when youth are successful.

“4-H is led through shared leadership. It’s what we’re all doing,” she added.

Nistler also has experience with Washington State University Extension and with Oregon State University Extension and State 4-H Camping Center, as well as with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Salem, Oregon, as a wildlife biologist.

Nistler received her doctorate in extension education, 4-H youth development and leadership from the University of Florida-Gainesville. She has a master’s degree of agriculture and education and a bachelor’s degree in fisheries and wildlife science, both from Oregon State University-Corvallis.

Chad Higgins, senior director for ISU Extension and Outreach, will serve as interim 4-H youth development state program leader through Aug. 14.


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