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Dana Stephens enjoys serving Okaloosa County, Florida and UF/IFAS Extension as the County Extension Director and 4-H Agent. In the County Extension Director role, Dana guides a vibrant team of faculty, program assistants, and staff engaged in impactful educational programming that enhances our communities. In the 4-H Agent role, she crafts accessible, experiential learning opportunities for youth and support systems for adult volunteers founded on positive youth development outcomes.

Three youth embracing after receiving second place at 4-H Statewide Forest Ecology event

Okaloosa 4-H youth embracing in excitement.

Dana’s career has always been about collaboration and helping others. This collaborative spirit is the driving force behind her service-focused, transformational leadership approach. She brings together her diverse experiences in natural resources and aquatic management, environmental sciences, higher education, leadership coaching, and career readiness to create a comprehensive approach to her work. The most rewarding part of her job is the journey of learning with individuals and teams, and the shared successes that come from it.

One of Dana’s current projects is the development of organizational and volunteer systems that support youth development in Okaloosa County. She recognizes the crucial role of adult leaders and volunteers in teaching youth and enhancing the 4-H program in Okaloosa County. Through collaborative work, she aims to align 4-H actions with the mission of the Okaloosa 4-H Program, which is to empower dedicated volunteers to equip youth with essential life skills, confidence, and a sense of belonging through engaging and fun learning experiences. Consistent organization, adherence to state and county protocols and procedures, and integration of positive youth development components into all outcomes are key to the success of this educational program.

Picture of Dana Stephens transporting baby chicks from an elementary school to their home farm as part of 4-H Embryology Project.

Dana Stephens transporting chicks for the Okaloosa County 4-H Embryology Project.

Dana deeply appreciates the mission of land grant institutions because of the inclusion of Extension. She completed an undergraduate degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and graduate degrees at the University of Florida, where Extension was a continual thread to her academic work. The opportunity to identify community needs and collaborate with various individuals and teams to build solutions to challenges through education is a gratifying career for Dana. Playing a small role in helping grow our future leaders through 4-H programming has been and will continue to be exhilarating every single day.