MANHATTAN, Kan. – Kenneth Taylor has agreed to serve as 4-H Volunteer Development Specialist in the 4-H Youth Development Department at Kansas State University.

When he begins working in his new position on Aug. 28, Taylor will join a state-wide program that provided educational activities to more than 74,000 young people across Kansas last year, aided by 11,000 adult and youth volunteers.

“Dr. Taylor brings a valuable skill set, diverse professional experiences, and success growing volunteer participants and refining volunteer systems to align with local needs and organizational goals,” said Wade Weber, state 4-H program leader. “His research emphasis in leadership development will be a key asset in designing recruitment, training, investment, evaluation, and accountability systems with 4-H volunteers to ensure safe and dynamic 4-H learning environments.”

Weber said Taylor brings a valuable skillset and professional experience to the Kansas 4-H Youth Development team.

Taylor earned his MBA from Bellarmine University's Rubel School of Business and also holds a B.A. in Sociology from the same institution. His earned his Ph.D. in leadership development from Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, Texas, with a research focus on adult leader behavior and role satisfaction within nonprofit organizations.

His most recent professional role was as the program director and assistant professor of the Nonprofit Leadership Studies program at Murray State University. Before that, he was a nonprofit consultant assisting organizations with long-range planning, acting as fund development counsel, and providing interim executive director/CEO services. Earlier, he enjoyed a progressive 12-year career with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. Having started with that organization as a part-time social work assistant in Louisville, Kentucky, he rose to the role of CEO of their affiliate in Austin, Texas, before stepping away in 2008.Though he received many accolades along the way, Taylor said the accomplishment he cherishes most is the direct involvement he had in improving the lives of thousands of youth.

“It’s an honor to join the Kansas 4-H youth development program as an assistant professor with the obligation and commitment to further expand quality services to children throughout the state,” Taylor said. “During my interview process, the experience I had interacting with 4-H leaders and extension professionals helped make this an easy decision for me. Considering my own passion for positive youth development, I certainly came to the conclusion K-State Research and Extension would be a great fit for me, and am thrilled the feeling was mutual.”

Weber said Taylor’s expertise in leadership development is a key and vital lens to re-evaluate, retool and grow present volunteer development models to ensure safe learning environments for 4-H youth across Kansas. “Volunteers are key to the 4-H Program,” he said. “They are the lifeblood of the 4-H Youth Development Program in all our delivery modes: from community- to specialty clubs to in-school and after-school partnerships, residential to day camps. Equipped and empowered volunteers are mission critical to our organization.”

Taylor said he hopes to be able to leverage his combined practitioner experience and academic preparation to help as many kids as possible reach their full potential. “This can only be accomplished in partnership with adult volunteers and a fully engaged staff,” he said. “Though there are certain to be challenges along the way, I believe there to be an array of opportunities for Kansas 4-H.

Kansas 4-H is the youth development program for K-State Research and Extension. Through 4-H’s educational mission, young people learn by doing so they can be equipped to reach their full potential and become engaged adults who make valuable social and economic contributions in their communities.

To learn more about Kansas 4-H, visit www.ksre.k-state.edu/4h-youth/.