By Zane Davis
According to Websters Dictionary, a public servant is defined as a government official or employee, but there is so much more to a public servant than just a job. Public servants are so much more than an appointment, election or employee. They serve a vital role in communities as law enforcement, first responders, elected officials, government workers and even educators. Although the term Public Servant generally conjures images of police officers or firemen, the 2017 recipient of the Weiser Chamber of Commerce Public Servant of the Year, Michelle Tate, serves an equally valuable service to Washington County in the role of education, promoting volunteerism and the critical job of molding the youth of Washington County.
Michelle Tate serves as the Washington County 4-H Program Coordinator for the University of Idaho Washington County Extension office. Tate works with “Volunteer leaders, youth members and Extension Office faculty and staff to implement and manage the 4-H Youth Development Program.” The 4-H program is the largest educational group in the world with 6.5 million members in the United States, alone. With a tradition of education that dates back to 1902, being a 4-H Coordinator could seem like a daunting task. However, Tate relishes the challenge, and devotes her time to recruiting members and leaders, conducting 4-H training for leaders and youth, working with the Leaders Council and related committees, and coordinating and facilitating county and district events. Serving as the 4-H Coordinator for Washington County is not a fly-by-night, interim position for Tate. Tate has been involved with the Idaho Extension for 17 years; 10 years in Washington County and previously 7 years in Payette County. 4-H is a passion for Tate, and she serves in her position with a zest and vigor that goes beyond a mere job.
Tate is not a native Idahoan. In fact, she was raised in Binghamton, New York until she was 12 years old. Her family relocated from the east coast to the west coast of California. Tate attended Sierra College, majoring in animal science, which obviously contributed to her value as a 4-H educator. Tate met her husband, Dave Tate, who serves as the City Clerk for the City of Weiser, while in California, and they have been married for 24 years. The Tates moved to Weiser, as Dave’s family had hunted in the area when he was younger, and had a fondness for the Weiser community. Michelle and Dave have two grown sons that both serve in the U.S. Navy. Apparently, the public service desire is strong in the Tate family.
Tate states, “I always wanted to work with kids and animals in some way, but not necessarily as a school teacher. My job is the perfect combination for my love of animals and kids!”
When Tate was asked what her favorite part of her job is, she states, “I will say I have many favorite parts of my job, but to pick one, would be watching the 4-H members grow and develop as they participate in the 4-H program.” She adds, “I've watched a lot of youth come through the program over the years, and I know they don't realize the valuable life skills they are learning at the time; that usually will come later in life. So, just knowing we as 4-H leaders and staff are giving kids the skills they need to live a productive life is rewarding.” Tate and the 4-H leaders of Washington County are definitely doing something right because Tate says, “It's great to see our former 4-H'ers come back as adult volunteers so they can give back to the next generation of youth.”
Public servants that serve with a passion are typically very humble about their impact on their communities, and Tate is no different. When asked what the 2017 Public Servant of the Year Awards means to her, she states, “It means a lot to me to receive this award, especially when I feel like I'm just doing what I love to do, work with kids & animals.” In true modest public servant fashion, Tate adds, “I definitely feel like there are many other deserving candidates for this award, so it is very humbling to receive it.” Tate is very appreciative of the support of those who voted for her, and says, “I would like to thank my family for being supportive of my position within Extension, which requires long hours, late night meetings, and being away for extended periods of time for training.”
Congratulations to Michelle Tate, recipient of the 2017 Weiser Chamber of Commerce Public Servant of the Year, and thank you for your dedication to the valuable job of education and molding the youth of Washington County for the betterment of future generations.