- Author: Susana C. Bruzzone-Miller
We are pleased to introduce the newest member of the education team. Valerie Zeko, Community Education Specialist II, will oversee the Ventura County 4-H Community Club program. Valerie studied at Cal State Fullerton where she earned a BA in Liberal Arts degree. She continued her education at UCSB earning a Masters of Education.
Valerie began her teaching career at Camarillo High School. When her second child was born, Valerie opted to become a full-time mom. For the next 14 years, she embraced volunteerism by working in her children's schools and at her church. She also started and maintained a website called VenturaParent.com that provided resources for parents. Valerie returned to teaching in 2014 and worked as an English teacher at Buena and Foothill Technology High Schools, both in Ventura.
She became involved in 4-H a few years ago when she was invited to teach a sourdough bread making class for her daughter Emma's Baking Project (Loma Vista Club). She had so much fun that she decided to become a Project Leader and has led the Baking Project ever since. Valerie is inspired by the inclusivity and warmth of 4-H and says she “feels lucky to be able to work in an office with wonderful people at the UC Hansen Agricultural Center where I can look out the window and see strawberry fields and beautiful hills in the distance!”
Her greatest joy in life is learning and feels some of the best to learning comes from reading and traveling. This spring she and her family traveled to Panama to visit her daughter Anneke, who has been working as an intern for the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Gamboa. ”I learned so much about Panama and its food, history and culture. I saw howler monkeys and coatis in the jungle and learned about an animal called a “nyeke” which looks like a guinea pig with long legs. I look forward to my next adventure working for 4-H!”
Valerie is a long time Ventura County resident and proud mom to Anneke, 2017 UCLA graduate; Emma, senior at Foothill Technology High School; Ben, 8th grader at DATA middle school. We are excited to bring Valerie on board. Her background as a 4-H project leader, passion for teaching and learning, and appreciation for volunteerism are vital assets for the Ventura County 4-H Youth Development Program.