Shelby County Welcomes New Extension Agent


Kyla Szemplinski, MS is the new Extension Agent I for 4-H Youth Development in Shelby County, Tenn. Having an extensive background and education in Equine studies made her a natural choice to fill this vacant position. Kyla started in early January and she is eager to meet people and find how she can best be of service in the Mid-south area.

Her Bachelor’s degree in Animal Science specializing in Equine Sciences is from the University of Missouri. After graduation, she completed an internship at the Middleburg Agriculture Research and Extension Center in Northern Virginia under Dr. Bridgett McIntosh. Her Master of Science degree in Animal Science specializing in Equine Nutrition is from Tarleton State University under Dr. Trinette Jones. Part of her research is published in the Journal of Equine Veterinary Science:

Kyla credits both Dr. Bridgett McIntosh and Dr. Trinette Jones as the biggest influences in her equine education. “Both educators are brilliant and compassionate in their fields and want to see their students excel academically and professionally,” she notes. It is the influence of these educators that she brings to her current role which also involves education. She also credits James Hillaery, Ag Natural Resources Agent in Loudon County, VA  and Dr. Karen Vines, Assistant Professor at Virginia Tech. She acknowledges both helped her better understand Extension services, history, program development/evaluation, needs assessments in the area, and youth and adult education approaches. “They helped me greatly to be prepared for this job,” she adds.

Kyla is no newcomer to 4-H, a program that she grew up in. While in Texas she volunteered with both FFA and 4-H, fulfilling part of the 4-H motto pledging “my hands to better living for my club, my community, my country, and my world.” 

Over the next six to twelve months Kyla plans to meet people and attend 4-H club meetings and events to discover the needs and roles in Shelby County 4-H. She will be purposefully looking to increase youth involvement in 4-H and also volunteer opportunities. She is particularly interested in S.T.E.M. and Equine teaching. Her family’s deep history with the military has led to a desire to support veteran families as well.

A lifelong equestrian, she has ridden and studied abroad, including Scotland, and studied several types of riding while state-side. She is currently taking lessons in Dressage and hopes to compete in the future.

In Tennessee, Cooperative Extension is the voice of the land-grant universities: University of Tennessee-Knoxville and Tennessee State University. It is tasked with bringing university research to the local counties to improve the livelihood of county residents. Shelby County Extension is based at the Agricenter International, 7777 Walnut Grove Road, Memphis, TN 38120. Kyla says, “We’re here to help! I am very approachable and easy to contact.” Extension has a large variety of programs for a wide array of interests. From Youth to Adult programs, there truly is something for everyone. 

The Cooperative Extension offers the following services: 

  • 4-H youth development in a multitude of areas (agriculture/natural resources, STEM, healthy lifestyles, in and after school programming just to name a few). 
  • Family and Consumer Science education 
  • SNAP Education
  • Soil/forage sampling 
  • Master Gardener program 
  • Small/urban gardens

For a full listing all of Extension resources: 

Following Shelby County Cooperative Extension on Facebook is an excellent way to find activities and opportunities:

Michele Harn

Michele is a Contributing Writer for the Horse Review. She has been involved with horses in many different areas. At 4 years old, a Welsh pony started her on the road to riding and competing. Michele is experienced in Western, Saddle Seat, Barrel Racing, Dressage, Fox Hunting and Carriage Driving. She moved to the Mid-South from Wisconsin in the summer of 2021.

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