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Children the inspiration for 4-H program’s chief

by Will Hehemann Special to The Commercial | March 10, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.
Teki Hunt

As director of the 4-H Youth Development Program for the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Teki Hunt finds joy in her work with community youth.

"Working with children inspires me," she said. "The moment when their eyes light up because they have discovered something new or grasped a concept for the first time makes the long hours worth it."

During March, Women's History Month, the UAPB School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences recognizes Hunt.

Hunt is working with community partners in and around Pine Bluff to make sure more youth are being served and benefitting from 4-H programming, which helps youth develop vital communication skills and gives them hands-on experience in agriculture and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) projects.

"All of my maternal aunts were educators – one was actually the previous director of the Child Development Center here at UAPB," she said. "I guess you could say that being an educator runs in the family."

Hunt said she initially started college as a biology pre-med major with intentions of pursuing a career as a pediatrician.

"Eventually, however, I decided that I wanted to be in a field where I could actually build relationships with the children being served rather than just seeing them a few times a year," she said.

Hunt was offered a position at UAPB in 2011 when she was serving children at UAPB's Child Development Center through her then-job as an early childhood special education teacher and interpreter for the Arkansas River Education Service Cooperative.

"The Department of Human Sciences was going through accreditation and needed an additional instructor for human development and family studies."

During her career at UAPB, she previously served as assistant to the dean of academics for the School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences, an instructor for the Department of Human Sciences and instructor of developmental reading for the Office of Basic Academic Services.

Earlier in her career, Hunt served as a tutor and curriculum developer for the Atlanta Public Schools International Student Services Center. She also served as a special education teacher-trainer for the U.S. Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic – in this position, all her work was conducted in Spanish.

Previously, she also worked as an early intervention specialist for the non-profit Jenkins Memorial Center at Pine Bluff. It was at this therapeutic day school that she worked with a client who would influence her career.

"Elton Harrison III was a child with Down syndrome whom I initially babysat, then later provided services for through Jenkins Memorial Center when I was home for the summer from college," she said.

"Seeing how he grasped concepts and communicated his wants and needs even though he was non-verbal, as well as seeing the joy he brought to his family and others, he served as my inspiration for going into special education."

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