Ann Golden's last day as Seneca County's Ohio State University Extension educator for the 4-H program is Dec. 31, but she said goodbye to her office Friday after 24 1/2 years of service.
"Yes, I'm going to miss it. Yes, I've enjoyed it. Yes, it's been a rewarding employment experience," she said. "I've appreciated and enjoyed my work.
"Right now I'm diligently working on finalizing a lot of details," she said early this week. "Cleaning up the office, going through things, organizing things, making sure everything is all taken care of. I'm going to be putting together information about contact people so the next person has a place to start."
Golden said she recently received some good news that are highlights to her years in the 4-H program.
"I'm leaving on some real high notes," she said. "I'm leaving the program with some good strong 4-H programs that are a benefit to the community, with the help of a lot of people. I did not do this by myself."
She particularly proud of two recent accomplishments.
She received word early this week that a project she was involved in has gained national recognition.
"I was on a writing team that wrote a project on outdoor grilling," she said. "The second book, 'Beyond the Grill,' has been accepted as a national 4-H project. That's a really cool thing. I didn't even know they were exploring that."
Another is the 4-H Carteens program, a two-hour education program for teens who have driving violations.
The program - in all but one county school - involves trained teens teaching others vehicle safety. She said she learned the program is to continue on the approval of Juvenile Court Judge Jay Meyer.
"We just finished out first year and they're planning on developing some special programs about driving safety before prom," she said. "The youths have taken leadership on this.
"Like I told the kids, if this program helps to save one life it will be worth it," she said.
Golden said the position has been posted at OSU, and applications are due in early January for qualified people. After interviews in Columbus to narrow the field and local interviews, she expects a new person to be in place by spring.
The position requires a master's degree, which can be from a number of areas of study, but usually either bachelor's or master's work is within a field related to working with children.
"My background was in children's development and consumer sciences," she said. "It was a good background for the job."
She said Brandon Wise, now an experienced 4-H program assistant, plans to continue working in the summer with the program as he pursues his bachelor's degree.
"He isn't qualified to apply for the job," she said. "But he's going to provide stability. He's worked with me for at least three years and before that as a 4-H member."
Although she's been working for 42 years, Golden said she isn't ready to leave the workforce altogether.
"I have a list of things I think I could probably do," she said. "I'm exploring to see what's out there."
She and her late husband moved to Tiffin about 14 years ago, and she hopes to maintain friendships.
"I'm planning on staying in Tiffin for a good, long while," she said. "I like the community. People have been very hospitable. I enjoy being here in the community."
Other than working at new endeavor, Golden said she has some fun plans too.
"I have a bucket list," she said. "At the top of the bucket list is traveling and going places. I've been out west several times. I just like to go places and see new things. I'd like to travel to Europe."
She might even combine a new job with travel opportunities.
"My primary reason for wanting another job is to make some extra money so I can travel and do some things I'd like to do," she said.
For now, she has projects she would like to finish.
"Handwork. It's quite a pile," she said. "I could needlepoint patterns for years."
She also knits and crochets.
"I've got quilting things waiting for me," she said.
Now that she'll be spending more time at home, Golden said she'll mainly have to adjust to having fewer people around.
"What I will miss is working with the kids and the relationships with the advisers, contact with all the people," she said. "That's another reason I'm looking for another job.
"I've always been involved in all kinds of jobs involved with people, so this is going to be I don't know what to call it maybe withdrawal."
She said the children she worked with became "her kids" in many ways because she and her husband, Tony, didn't have children.
"I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the Seneca County families who have allowed their children to become involved in the 4-H program over the years," she said. "I also greatly appreciate all the families and adults who have participated in the 4-H program. Many thanks to all those adults who have served as 4-H volunteers. Without their involvement, help and support, the program wouldn't be as strong as it is today.
"I have many special memories that will always hold a special place in my heart," she said.