UACES Facebook Cooperative Extension Service welcomes new assistant vice president of 4-H and Youth Development
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Cooperative Extension Service welcomes new assistant vice president of 4-H and Youth Development

By Rebekah Hall
U of A System Division of Agriculture

April 17, 2023

Fast Facts:

  • Debbie Nistler will oversee 4-H Youth Development program
  • Nistler has Ph.D. in Agricultural and Extension Education Services from University of Florida
  • Nistler is 4-H alumna

(573 words)

(Newsrooms: With headshot of Nistler)

LITTLE ROCK — Debbie Nistler, extension’s new assistant vice president of 4-H and youth development for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, is a 4-H alumna and proud member of a “4-H family.”

NEW 4-H LEADERSHIP — As a 4-H alumna, Debbie Nistler, the new extension assistant vice president of 4-H and youth development for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said she understands first-hand the impact that the program can have on youth. (Division of Agriculture photo.) 

Nistler, who brings more than 25 years of experience in extension work in Oregon, Washington, Florida and Iowa, will begin her new role on May 1.

“We are very excited to welcome Dr. Nistler to our team,” said Bob Scott, senior associate vice president for agriculture and extension for the Division of Agriculture. “She will bring a new perspective and much experience to our 4-H program.”

Nistler said she is looking forward to connecting with Arkansas 4-H professionals across the state.

“Our 4-H professionals are the lifeblood of the program,” she said. “I cannot wait to share in their enthusiasm. I also look forward to engaging in summer camps and activities and getting excited about the future of Arkansas 4-H.”

As a 4-H alumna, Nistler said she has seen firsthand how the program impacts youth and sets them on a path to success. She was a member from fourth grade through her senior year of high school in Yamhill, Oregon, and her two sisters also participated in the program.

“I brought home the school recruitment flyer as a fourth grader, and our family had never heard of 4-H before,” Nistler said. “After a few meetings, I was hooked. I showed sheep and cattle and participated in leadership at the club and county levels. All three of our children grew up in the 4-H program. They showed animals, participated in leadership and camping, and were all camp counselors. My son Beau served as State 4-H Council president in Florida and was camp staff for three years in college. We are a 4-H family!”

Nistler’s husband, David Nistler, will also be joining the Cooperative Extension Service as a program associate in the horticulture department.

Nistler earned her master’s degree in agricultural education from Oregon State University in 1997. She worked as an extension agent and later as county extension director for the University of Florida from 2003 to 2019, completing her Ph.D. in agricultural and extension education services from the University of Florida during that time. Before joining the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, she worked as state 4-H program leader for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

Nistler said 4-H youth development helped “set the course for extension” even before the signing of the Smith-Lever Act, which is the federal law that established a system of cooperative extension services associated with land-grant institutions in 1914.

“Youth provided a laboratory environment and promotional opportunity for early agriculture research in small community schoolhouses across the country,” Nistler said. “Youth helped pave the way for new agriculture research to get into communities. Today, youth are our future in every corner of Arkansas. 4-H is still a foundational way for extension to reach and grow communities for the future, developing critical life skills in youth so they can engage and lead in their communities now and into adulthood.”

Arkansas 4-H is a youth development program operated by the Cooperative Extension Service, part of the Division of Agriculture. The program teaches participants life skills through the “learn by doing” model. Program participants gain knowledge through non-formal, science-based, experiential education activities.

For more information about 4-H, contact your local county extension agent or visit

To learn about extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit Follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @AR_Extension. To learn more about Division of Agriculture research, visit the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station website: Follow on Twitter at @ArkAgResearch. To learn more about the Division of Agriculture, visit Follow us on Twitter at @AgInArk.


About the Division of Agriculture

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system. 

The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.  

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

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Media Contact:
Rebekah Hall