By SHANNEN HAYES
The 4-H program in Putnam County will be losing a valuable leader at the end of October. Lauralee Baugh will retire Oct. 31 after seven years of providing guidance and organization to the program.
Baugh, 4-H youth development educator and Putnam County Extension director, says she is ready to not wake up to an alarm clock. She has given more than 3,000 hours to 4-H. Her age played a role in the decision to retire, she admitted. A grandmother, she will devote her time to their sport and school activities.
Kim Miller and Melissa Archer, who work at the Extension office with Baugh are both sad to see her go.
"She is very creative," said Miller, 4-H secretary.
During her time as the youth development educator, she formed the Putnam County U.S.A. program. The idea of the exchange program is to give 4-H members the chance to visit other members in different states. The group has visited eight of the nine Putnam counties in the United States. Putnam County 4-H members were also given the chance to host visiting 4-H members.
Baugh says she came up with the program when she and others were challenged by staff at Purdue University to come up with an idea to help kids learn about diversity. This is the program she is most proud of.
Baugh has implemented eight new county projects throughout her seven years on the job. She has also prepared and updated several other county manuals.
"She works tirelessly at her job," said Ann Delchambre, Ag and Natural Resources educator. Baugh has been a role model and "wonderful leader" to Delchambre since she came to the Extension office in 2004.
The 10-year member number has grown in the last few years. There are currently 1,110 youth enrolled in the 4-H program; 826 youth have participated in special interest groups and workshops; and 1,497 youth were involved in school enrichment programs. The 4-H youth development programs have given 3,433 youth of Putnam County skill development opportunities.
As an active member of the local community, she is belongs to Greencastle Rotary, Greater Greencastle Chamber of Commerce, Washburn Chapter of the Daughter of the American Revolution, Friends and Neighbors Extension Homemakers Group, Peace Makers Quilt Mission and Greencastle Christian Church.
There are several community service projects Baugh has been a part of over the years.
Baugh lost her husband, Jim, in the line of duty in January 2004. Since that time, she has been active in Concerns for Police Survivors or COPS both at the state and national levels.
Jason and Jerrod, their sons, are now active law enforcement officers. They and their wives bring much joy to Baugh's life.
"She has earned it (retirement) and we wish her well," said Jackie Baumann, Purdue Extension educator.
Baugh's retirement "celebration" as she calls it will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Nov. 1 at Putnam County 4-H Fairgrounds. Everyone is invited.