Seneca Extension names new 4-H chief

Jason Sidell was hired as Seneca County’s new Ohio State University Extension 4-H educator last week, a few days before longtime office assistant Cindy Scherger said goodbye to the office Friday.

Scherger, who handled receptionist, secretarial and bookkeeping duties, has been a familiar face in the Extension office for 26 years.

“Will I miss it? Oh yes,” she said.

But she said she has reached the age when retirement looked like a good idea.

She and her husband, Jim, are planning a trip to Florida and a cruise to Central America.

“We just pretty much want to travel this first little bit,” she said. “He wants to see the United States.”

Scherger said she worked with another office assistant during her first years on the job. She said Bev Gabel taught her a lot and she enjoyed working with her until she retired.

Then she worked with Pam Ossenheimer until budget cuts in 2002 reduced the job to one person and she took on both jobs.

“Things have sure changed,” she said. “When I first started I used carbon paper and a manual typewriter.”

Scherger said she enjoyed assisting people.

“I grew up 4-H and like what Extension does for people,” she said. “It’s very easy to work here and feel comfortable.”

One of her favorite parts of the job were the people who walked in the door, she said.

“Working with the clientele, whether it’s 4-H-related or something else,” she said. “I just like answering questions. I can ID bugs. I’m glad nobody brought a snake in during my time here.

“What I learned from previous educators I can pass on, especially in the area of agriculture,” she said.

Scherger also handled the office’s finances, and helped to organize paperwork and projects at fair time.

“I like to organize the new things that come out to make is easier for the 4-H advisers, just kind of the whole gamut of things, books and inserts so the kids know how to finish their projects,” she said. “The advisers and the members and the families and the parents. Everybody is nice.

“The people have really been kind that come in. Some of them are frustrated about their problems and they don’t take it out on me.”

She worked with the new 4-H educator for only a few days before her last day, but at least she said she was able to give him a tour and show him a few things.

Sidell, who started the job last Tuesday, replaces Ann Golden, who retired in December. He spent his first day in the office Wednesday conducting interviews for Scherger’s replacement.

Sidell, a Fremont native, was active as a youth in the Sandusky County 4-H program. He earned his undergraduate degree in agricultural education from Ohio State University, where he was active in collegiate 4-H, and he worked during summer breaks as a 4-H assistant in Sandusky County.

He received his master’s degree in education from Heidelberg University.

“I actually started off with aspirations of working in Extension in 4-H,” he said. Because of the tight job market, he started as a substitute teacher and paraprofessional classroom aid, but “we had funding cuts like all schools are going through.”

He then worked at the Maumee Youth Center, a branch of Lutheran Home Society’s Family and Youth Services that provides residential services for children who suffer from severe emotional and behavioral disabilities.

And he was back in the Liberty Center school system working with emotionally disturbed children when a friend told him about the Seneca County job.

“A few phone calls and an interview later, here I am,” he said.

Sidell said he wants to continue the great 4-H programs in place in Seneca County for students ages 9-18 and Cloverbuds for kindergarteners through age 8.

“We have a very good opportunity to spread the word about 4-H and get the college kids involved who attend Heidelberg and Tiffin,” he said. “I really enjoyed the collegiate club at Ohio State. I would like to try to keep them involved as they get older.”

He is beginning the job at the beginning of the 4-H year.

“Enrollment deadline was March 15,” he said. “So right now we’re working on making sure the clubs have everything turned in.”

He said he’s looking forward to the 4-H Kickoff 7-8:30 p.m. May 9, and working with 30 young people training to become camp counselors for 4-H camp at Kelleys Island in mid-June.

He’s working on updating the county Extension office’s website, and wants to start a Facebook page for the 4-H program.

Sidell lives in Liberty Center with his wife, Carrie, and 4-year-old son, Jim, but the family plans to move halfway between Tiffin and Carrie’s job at the Anderson’s in Maumee.