Friday Spotlight: Caitlin Clineff 4-H Alumnus

— Written By

4-H was a big part of my life growing up in the Westfield area of Stokes County. Some of the big highlights of my 15 years as a 4-Her were winning national titles in horticulture and public speaking, hosting Japanese students and visiting Japan through the 4-H International Exchange Program, sewing outfits for the State Fashion Revue, serving as the North Central District 4-H Vice President, being inducted into the NC 4-H Honor Club, and making lifelong friends and connections with whom I still keep in touch. Beyond all of my achievements though, the most important things I gained were the skills that I use consistently in my professional life today.

Being involved in the 4-H horticulture program allowed me to experience and learn about different aspects of the horticulture industry that I knew nothing about—I got to meet people and tour facilities all over the country through the 4-H partnership with the National Junior Horticultural Association, and I learned about the Horticulture Department at NC State through 4-H summer programs. It was these experiences that eventually led me to major in Horticulture at NC State and start my career in the landscape industry. After graduation, I started out working on a grounds crew in a public garden, then went on to become a landscape designer and horticultural consultant in Washington, DC.

Today, I live in Durham, NC and work for Myatt Landscaping & Construction in Fuquay-Varina, right outside of Raleigh. My job title is Recruiting Specialist & Company Ambassador, and I handle employee recruiting and retention, marketing, social media, and public outreach. I enjoy teaching students about the great career opportunities in landscaping, whether they decide to get a college degree, or start working right out of high school. There are a huge number of high-paying jobs with benefits for anyone willing to work hard, no matter what their background is.

I cannot express enough the appreciation and gratitude I have for every 4-H volunteer leader and professional who helped me on my journey, because all of those experiences I had as a youth prepared me for what I do today. Not only did I discover my interest in working with plants, I also gained critical skills in public speaking and networking, especially through participating in the 4-H presentations every year. It helped me become comfortable organizing my thoughts, preparing presentations, speaking in front of large crowds, and answering questions from an audience. In 2019, I was invited by the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) to speak at a conference in Washington, DC about the work I was doing for Myatt in high school outreach, and because of my 4-H experiences, I was able to deliver a well-received speech in front of a room full of CEOs from all over North America. Because of that speech, I was invited to become an advisory board member for the NALP Women in Landscape Network, which strives to recruit, promote, and support women in the landscape industry. I am currently starting my third year serving the advisory board.

I owe my professional success in my career largely to my 4-H experiences, which would not have been possible without the support of my parents, Mike and Pam Davis, my 4-H Agents, April Bowman and Terri Bost, and the state 4-H staff, Shannon McCollum and Sarah Kotzian, and NC State Extension Specialist Liz Driscoll. To all of them, I say thank you from the bottom of my heart. To anyone considering getting their kids involved in 4-H, I recommend it without hesitation.

Woman speaking

Speaking during a roundtable discussion during the NALP Workforce Summit

Woman at podium

Giving a speech at the NALP Workforce Summit

woman teaching a class

Teaching high school students about plant identification during a field trip at Myatt Landscaping.

Four people singing on stage

Performing the 4-H Centennial Song in 2008.

People in rainforest

Touring the rainforest in Puerto Rico on a 4-H Plants and Soils trip in 2007.

For more information about the Stokes County 4-H program, please contact Taylor Furr at taylor_furr@ncsu.edu or (336) 593-8179.