Teaching & Learning

New Full Professor Advocates for Youth Development

By Shelby Ruud-Jarman |

With a passion for education and experiential learning, David Francis views the role of youth development as vitally important.

“As our world is changing at an unprecedented rate, providing our youth with the tools and programs they need to become successful adults is imperative,” he said.

As the Utah State University Extension youth development director, David Francis provides leadership, guidance and oversight to all Extension youth programs and the state 4-H office in support of the USU land-grant mission.

“I’ve realized that, to drive change, it has to come from the local level,” Francis said. “Seeing youth and volunteers who work with Extension and 4-H to make a positive difference in their community has been a high point of my career.”

Francis shared the story of his career with colleagues, friends and family members during his Inaugural Lecture as a new full professor.

Nearly two decades of working within USU Extension began during Francis’ senior year of college. Working with Gary Straquadine and Bruce Miller, faculty members from USU’s Applied Sciences, Technology, & Education department, sparked Francis’ interest in Extension and the land-grant mission.

“The land-grant mission is important because it provides an opportunity to access education and information,” Francis said. “Unbiased and research-based, it empowers people to apply knowledge to make themselves, families and communities a better place.”

In truth, Francis’ career preparations began long before college. Working as a summer camp counselor from the age of 13 not only gave him the skills to run a youth program, but also taught him how to really make an impact on those younger than him.

Those skills have served him well in his current role as youth development director for USU Extension. He was appointed to this position in November of 2018, succeeding close friend and mentor Kevin Kesler. 

Prior to this appointment, Francis was a USU Extension faculty member with a focus on developing and supporting 4-H STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) programs.

“There have been a variety of great experiences in the 4-H STEM program,” he said. “The one I am most proud of is working with county 4-H programs around the state to teach teen leaders to lead STEM efforts in their community.”

In his new role, Francis is raising awareness about the wealth of resources and programs Extension provides for youth and educators.

“The idea that youth are willing to apply new knowledge to drive change in the community is what makes the 4-H program so important,” he said.

For more information about USU Extension and 4-H, visit extension.usu.edu


Shelby Ruud-Jarman
Student Writer
College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences


David Francis
Youth Development Director



Extension 379stories Utah 334stories Faculty 239stories Teaching 122stories Land-Grant 112stories 4-H 44stories

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