Don Buhler has received the Pratt County Extension Appreciation Award for his volunteer services earlier this year.
It came as no surprise that Don Buhler was more than willing to help out at the Pratt County Extension office earlier this year when they were looking for another extension agent.
But Buhler was surprised when he received the Extension Appreciation Award at the annual Extension meeting on Nov. 26 at the Pratt Area 4-H Center on the Pratt County Fairgrounds.
The award is presented to someone who has given above and beyond to help the Extension office. Buhler helped with a number of chores including inputting membership information and more, said Pratt County Extension Agent Vicki Simonsen.
“When we needed something done, whatever it was, he was more than willing to help us do it,” Simonsen said.
Buhler admits he married into working with the Extension 4-H program. While he was never involved in 4-H as a youth, his wife Sue was active with the program. Their daughter Katie joined 4-H as soon as she was old enough and was actively involved every year she was eligible.
Both Don and Sue became project leaders and remained involved throughout the years although Sue was more heavily involved, Buhler said.
But Buhler was very active himself. He got involved with different projects and was a building manager for four years. As for him and his family, they liked participating in 4-H and Buhler saw the positive impact it had on the children involved in the program.
“4-H became a way of life for us. We felt like it was a way we could serve the county,” Buhler said. “I could see the advantage of participating in the program even though I was not involved as a child.”
For several months, the Pratt Extension office was looking for another agent after the retirement of Agent Mark Ploger. The office needed some extra help to get ready for the Pratt County Fair and Buhler had the time to help out so from May to the end of the fair in July, he stepped in part time and helped where ever he was needed, Buhler said.
He worked part time and spent much of his time as a “gofer” doing whatever needed to be done. A couple of his primary tasks included getting judges packets ready for the fair. Each department packet has to be stocked for the fair. It tedious but it has to be done, Buhler said.
He helped get buildings and equipment ready for the fair. He spent a lot of time entering fair memberships into the computer as well as anything else they needed done.
“There were a lot of jobs to do and they needed an extra pair of hands to get ready for the fair,” Buhler said.
Simonsen was hired in late June and Buhler was able to do tasks that freed her to concentrate on her duties and get ready for the fair.
This was the first time Buhler worked in the Extension office and he learned first hand all the activities that goes on in the office. One of the things that surprised him was all the people who had questions that were not related to the fair even when it was close to fair time.
It takes a lot of volunteers to make the fair happen. There are other ways volunteers can help at the Extension office that are not associated with the fair.
Buhler encourages others to get involved with Extension. The first step is to stop by the Extension office and the staff will help find an area they can help.
“There’s a place to get involved,” Buhler said.
Buhler intends to keep volunteering for 4-H activities and was glad for the award and to be recognized for his work.
“I just stepped up when help was needed,” Buhler said. “4-H and extension is something we (Don and Sue) will be involved the rest of our lives. It gets in the blood.”