Name: Gail Castillo
Current Position Title: Regional Program Specialist / 4-H Youth Development
Hometown: Latimer, Iowa
Education Background: BS – Social Work; MS – Agricultural Education
Past Work experiences: I am a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer from Equatorial Guinea in west central Africa. That is where I was immersed in the Spanish language and a bit of French.
Hobbies/Interests: Reading, watching ISU football and men’s basketball
Ultimate Goal in working with 4-H: My ultimate goal is that 4-H continue to be a place for all youth and adults to learn together and make a positive difference in the communities around them.
When Gail returned home from Africa, there was a county paid position open for 4-H in Franklin County. She was hired and worked part time while commuting for her Master’s degree at Iowa State. Gail thought once her degree was complete, she would move and work in extension in another part of the country, but as she was finishing her studies she had her first child and realized that her home county was perfect for raising a family.
“No two days are ever identical and I think that’s one of my favorite things about working with ISU Extension” Gail told me. A “regular” day would be in an office in her region working on upcoming meetings, trainings, or materials that will support the growth of Iowa 4-H through members and volunteers. Gail might be at the computer, meeting with staff, or attending a meeting with a partner organization. When asking her what her favorite part of her job was she replied, “I appreciate the variety of my position ~ the many things I get to continue learning about as I work with our 4-H families. LEGO® MINDSTORMS®, Food Safety and Quality Assurance, and community service learning are some of the most recent topics I’ve learned about!”
Gail gets excited about most things in 4-H! County and state fair season is a favorite of hers though. She says, “It is amazing to watch members light up when they explain what they’ve been working on and have an item to show you just what they’ve learned. Watching the “light bulbs” as kids are learning new ideas and mastering new skills is pretty cool.”
What does 4-H mean to Gail? It means a place for kids and adults who want to learn together…where possibilities are endless. It’s where you get to have fun with friends, learn new skills, and experiment with things you have never tried before (building a robot, planting a garden, or speaking in front of a group). 4-H is an instant connect with people of all ages.