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Casey Mull

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Casey Mull

Former 4-H'er finds his 'academic passion' in Extension

Georgia 4-H's Extension military specialist Casey Mull says he was not your "stereotypical 4-H'er."

Sure, he joined 4-H in fifth grade and didn't miss a week of camp after that. Under Marilyn Poole's leadership in Athens-Clarke County, Casey attended District Project Achievement and mastered in General Recreation in 2002. His presentation was on social dancing and etiquette. Later, he returned to 4-H camp as a camp counselor and earned the coveted leadership title of Shawnee Mico.

"I often say now that I never touched an animal the whole time I was a 4-H'er," he said. "When I face people who try to stereotype 4-H, I use my experiences to explain to them that 4-H isn't all about agriculture."

After graduating from Clarke Central High School in 2002, Casey left the Peach State for the hills of North Carolina. He attended Wake Forest University in Winston Salem, a place he calls the "home of R.J. Reynolds and Krispy Kremes." (He is thankful he returned to Georgia with a business degree and didn't return as a smoker or a sweets addict.)

While taking summer classes at UGA, Casey took a part-time job working with Georgia 4-H. He helped manage the first military kids' camp held at Wahsega 4-H Center and continued to work with Georgia 4-H on his college breaks.

"After graduation, I intended to work with Teach For America in rural Mississippi," he said. "But, preparation met opportunity and a full-time position opened up with Georgia 4-H. So I turned down TFA."

Casey became coordinator of the Operation Military Kids program and Georgia 4-H's military programs.

When he applied to Wake Forest, Casey was asked to write an essay about his academic passion. He recalls writing, in what he calls "the worst essay he ever wrote," that he likes to learn about anything and everything.

"In my four-five years in Extension, I've learned about the power we have to educate adults, too – both non-formally and formally," he said. "Through my work in 4-H, I found my academic passion. I couldn't share my academic passion being a high school senior."

Casey calls his Georgia 4-H appointment "the best of both worlds."

"I teach both kids and adults. There's nothing more enjoyable than working with and seeing kids become leaders. But it's also rewarding to see adults develop skills to teach students in their communities."

Casey has grown professionally since joining Georgia 4-H, and 4-H's military programs have grown under his leadership. Today, Marcus Eason coordinates OMK and Casey devotes 75 percent of his time to the U.S. Air Force working with military youth programs on a national level.

"I work to build connections for Air Force families across the globe," he said. "I carry the resources of UGA and all the land-grant colleges to the Air Force through Extension. Instead of working just with military kids, I now work to support military families."

A lot of Casey's work can be done virtually, but he does travel to Washington "every couple of months or so." To date, he has helped organize 80 teams of Air Force youths, the best of the nation, for a conference at the Pentagon and is planning a similar meeting of Reserve youths this summer in Georgia.

Casey earned a master's degree in public administration from UGA in 2008 and is now working on a Ph.D. in adult education. "Jenny Jordan and I will both get our Ph.D.s 100 years and one day after Woodrow Wilson signed the Smith-Lever Act," he said. "That's just an odd piece of trivia we found."

Another bit of trivia is the fact that Casey isn't the only one in the Mull family who holds a UGA degree. His mother, Susan, received her bachelor's and master of education and his father, Wilbur, graduated from CAES with a BS in agricultural economics. The elder Mull owns and operates Classic Groundcovers in Athens.

(Written by Sharon Dowdy, a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

Released January 2011.

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