Dr. Willa Williams is the County Engagement Specialist in Taney County and the 4-H Youth Development Specialist for Taney, Stone, and Christian coun-ties in Missouri. Although Willa is a 4-H alum from the Little Rock, Arkansas area, her career began outside of 4-H in the Natural Resource Conservation Service in Illinois before returning to the University of Arkansas. While there, she worked in the Extension Biological and Engineering department assisting in aerial applicator research including managing an agricultural aircraft NTSB accident database.
Willa was then recruited to Arkansas 4-H and started a nationally recognized 4-H Tech Team program and became University of Arkansas’ first 4-H STEM Specialist. Willa then moved to Colorado State University to be their 4-H STEM and K-12 Specialist and started a 4-H Master Volunteer program and 4-H STEM Connections curriculum. She returned again to Arkansas to complete her doctoral research and was hired by the Mayor of North Little Rock as their bicycle and pedestrian coordinator. In her spare time, Willa became a League Cycling Instructor with the League of American Bicyclists and a Wilderness First Responder. Willa has volunteered as a ride marshal for many cycling events including Arkansas’ Big Dam Bridge 100 and Tour de Fat in Colorado.
After completing her doctorate, Willa was hired by the University of Missouri Extension and has become a statewide leader in career education and youth preparedness programs. She is the 4-H My Preparedness Initiative statewide coordinator, the Ready in the Middle statewide coordinator, and serves on the statewide college and career readiness committee. In partnership with the Forsyth Fire Department in Missouri, Willa established a 4-H Junior Fire Service program that trains teens to complete their Firefighter 1 certification.