Meet new Extension faculty member Bill Davenport

The 2018 Woodbury FFA State Champion Dairy Judging team on their return from a twelve-day tour of Scotland and Ireland. Left to right: Julia Wisniewski, coach Bill Davenport, Claire Delohery, Bramble, Taylor Wilkes, Hayley Gillette and parent Tara Wheeler.
The 2018 Woodbury FFA State Champion Dairy Judging team on their return from a twelve-day tour of Scotland and Ireland. Left to right: Julia Wisniewski, coach Bill Davenport, Claire Delohery, Bramble, Taylor Wilkes, Hayley Gillette and parent Tara Wheeler.

After thirty-three years as an agri-science teacher at Nonnewaug High School in Woodbury, William Davenport has found his way back to his early grounding in 4-H. On July 5, he began work as assistant extension educator in charge of 4-H programing in Litchfield County. Davenport is a graduate of the College, having earned bachelor of science and master of science degrees in animal science, then  sixth year in administration and supervision at Southern Connecticut State University.

“We are pleased to have Bill join the Extension team as an accomplished agri-science educator who brings a wealth of experience in STEM, agricultural literacy and leadership development,” says Bonnie Burr, assistant director of UConn Extension. “Bill will be carrying out programs with the county’s 929 youth ages 5-19 and eighty-nine enrolled/trained volunteers. He will also be developing and implementing statewide 4-H livestock-related programs.”

Growing up in Litchfield County, Davenport loved being a member of 4-H. He attended UConn with the idea of becoming a 4-H agent. But when the position in his county was filled by a new young agent, it was suggested he consider ag education. He changed his focus and set a new goal.

“Now I’m back to my original plan and I’m very excited to have this second career in my life,” he says.

Davenport plans to build the 4-H program and expand the clubs. “I love teaching and have enjoyed working with high school students. As an agri-science teacher, I was heavily involved with FFA, and now I have the opportunity to bring agriculture to younger kids.” One of his goals is to increase after school 4-H programing as a way of introducing additional students to 4-H.

“The program has unlimited potential,” he says. “Particularly for families with young children looking for an activity that is wholesome and educational, while being open and welcoming to all students of any background.”

“The basis of 4-H is teaching the importance of farming and the natural world, but it also includes so many life skills such as public speaking, leadership, communication, self-confidence and community service, as well as STEM programs and many other activities.”

Those life skills will go a long way toward helping students in their careers. To highlight this point, Davenport asked one of his students to speak at a regional FFA advisory meeting.

He says, “These meetings are attended by people in the agricultural industry. An industry expert stood up after this student’s presentation and said that she interviews for hundreds of positions a year and would hire the presenter immediately as she had not observed such poise and confidence in many applicants with advanced degrees. That’s what we teach in 4-H and FFA.”

Davenport would like to see state 4-H and FFA work together. “Think of what we could do collectively to help agricultural literacy and the agricultural industry,” he says.

Davenport grew up on a dairy farm and found 4-H dairy and livestock judging to be a rewarding experience. He plans to revitalize interest in 4-H livestock judging. “I’d like to develop 4-H teams that compete nationally. I’d also be interested in mentoring UConn judging teams.”

As an educator, Davenport has received numerous honors, including 2004 Connecticut State Teacher of the Year, USA Today’s 2005 All-USA Teacher Team, 2004-2005 NAAE Outstanding Agricultural Education Teacher for Region VI and 2005 NAAE Syngenta Advocate for Agricultural Education Teacher Award. He is a member of the Connecticut State Board of Education and the National FFA Alumni and Supporters Council and served on the National FFA board of directors from 2013 to 2016.

Davenport houses twenty registered Ayrshire and Holstein dairy cows at his brother’s dairy farm, near the Connecticut border in Ancram, New York, and five heifers at his family homestead, Toll Gate Farm, in Litchfield. He lives with his wife Jill (Perham) (also a UConn animal science graduate), and two daughters, Megan, a sophomore majoring in animal science and agricultural education major at UConn and Allison, a high school senior planning to attend UConn.

by Kim Colavito Markesich

3 thoughts on “Meet new Extension faculty member Bill Davenport

  1. Hi Mr. Davenport,
    Thanks for sharing such a great photo.
    I have a question about the Clydesdale Horse peeking out from behind you. I am one of the few members who run the Scotch Highland Festival in Scotland, CT. WE host five pipe bands to perform through out the day from noon until 5pm. We have a entertainment tent where we have a couple more popular bands performing, Celtic dance competitions, individual bagpipe and drumming competitions and of course the famous Highland Games.
    This year the festival will be held on Sunday, October 13th on Waldo Road, Scotland, CT.
    For the past few years I have been trying to find someone with one of the beautiful horses that descended from the beautiful country of Scotland. Unfortunately no one has ever responded back to our requests.
    I was wondering if it might be possible for you to bring one of the horses ( Clydesdale) to our festival for the public to see. WE will supply you with a area that will also have Scotch Highland Cattle and s special breed of sheep. Can you please let me know if we might be able to have you attend or if you might know of someone with a Clydesdale who would like to attend our festival and explain the breed and all the work that they provided before the tractor was available?? Thank you, I look forward in talking to you.
    Reg Patchell
    cell 860 917 5064
    home 860 822 6228

  2. Congratulations on your new “Career”. I know you will do a great job for 4-H. I wish you all the best. MD

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