Mari Jo Lohmeier is departing as Hubbard County 4-H program coordinator to accept the director’s role for Kinship of the Park Rapids Area.

She officially begins at Kinship, a not-for-profit youth mentoring organization for area children, on Monday, Aug. 12.

Lohmeier is parting on good terms with 4-H. “I love it, but it’s time. I wasn’t looking for a change; it just happened. I think the timing was right,” she said.

She describes the 4-H Ambassadors “as my absolute favorite program.”

“That program is just so close to my heart because I started it here and we have one of the biggest Ambassador programs in the state,” Lohmeier said.

During her nearly 7-year tenure, 4-H membership and programming grew exponentially. In 2016, Lohmeier received the 2016 Distinguished Program Staff Award from the University of Minnesota Extension.

“I love to grow programs,” she said, noting she developed the 8th Hour program at the Century School. “I’m excited to grow Kinship because I think there’s a lot of room to grow.”

Her first objective is finding adult mentors for the 11 children on the waiting list – and she may draw from the pool of 4-H families who “have big hearts.”

“Kinship and 4-H are so parallel. We have the same end goal. We really just want kids to thrive. We want to give kids caring adults. We want kids to find their passions,” she said.

Shawn Anderson, Kinship board president, said, “The Kinship board is excited to have Mari Jo take the executive director position. Mari Jo’s experience with 4-H parallels the work she will be doing at Kinship: volunteer recruitment and coordination, fundraising and creating fun experiences for kids. She has lots of positive energy and ideas for making Kinship a stronger program. Mari Jo be an excellent ambassador and leader for the program.”