Tell us about anyone who influenced you in Texas 4-H!
Please e-mail your tributes to Elizabeth Gregory at email@example.com and they will be posted on this page.
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This story comes from a first-time 4-H’er. Victoria is a third-grade student who participated in her first 4-H Fashion Show. When Victoria came to the show, she was very nervous. Our county Extension agent, Mr. Shannon DeForest, made her feel very welcomed by teasing her about her name. You see, all of our children are named after counties in Texas: Lee, Kendall, Victoria, and Trinity. Mr. DeForest said, “Hey, DeWitt! How are you?” Right away, Victoria started laughing and came back with, “I’m just fine, Mr. DeWoods!” A friendship grew from that moment. Our county Extension agent did more than “break the ice”—he started a life-long friendship with a first-time 4-H’er!
I joined 4-H in 1976 in Comal County. Our Home Ec agent at the time was Connie Ziegman Worley. She was fabulous! I still remember her at the county Food Show in 1977 and 1978 and how she introduced me to public speaking. Both years, I placed first in my category, qualifying for the district contest. After the county show, she brought all twelve of us behind the stage and sat us in a circle around a big machine. I was 10 or 11 at the time. It was a big double-reel tape-recorder. She proceeded to interview each of us for her radio program on our local radio station. If we messed up, she patiently rewound the tape and let us start over. I remember sitting at home the following week, listening to the radio to hear myself. It was such a neat experience it will forever impact me. Mrs. Worley is still in New Braunfels, no longer an Extension agent but always interested in hearing about my involvement and that of my children in 4-H. She was certainly a one-of-a-kind agent!
My county Extension agent, Tommy Phillips, has given me support in every aspect of my life, not only 4-H. He is there for me as a mentor and guide. He has helped me in projects and encouraged me in leadership. He’s been there for all of my ventures, from running for District Council President to answering simple questions about recordbook. Unique stories aren’t always needed; sometimes simple perseverance is best for everyone involved.
My county Extension agent, Cheryl Brewer, encouraged me to work with third- and fourth-grade girls in a food cooking project. This little group became the Girls, Inc., 4-H Club. A year later, boys could join, so the club was renamed Kids, Inc., 4-H Club. This club, which has passed through several club managers, is now the largest 4-H club in Van Zandt County.
Van Zandt County
My county Extension agent, Tommy Phillips, is AMAZING! He is there every step of the way for my daughter, for our county 4-H program, and on and on. Tommy has gotten me through several bumps in the road concerning my club TEENAGERS!! They are the greatest group of kids, but face challenges we adults never dreamed of!!! Tommy informs the 4-H leaders in the county of event sign-ups, etc. Under his care, our 4-H numbers have grown, but, even more important, the 4-H members have grown in maturity and life skills.
Van Zandt County
My county Extension agent, Dee Lee Smith, encouraged my daughters to do the Consumer Education project. My younger daughter was the only senior member the second year of the project. Dee Lee walked me through starting a new club for 14 + in age. The Canton High School 4-H Project Club is now in its third year, and Van Zandt County brought a senior-level Consumer Team to ROUNDUP this year!
Van Zandt County
Our county Extension agent, Brian Cummins, has been a special friend to our family since my younger daughter was a toddler and wrapped herself around his leg. He has helped both my daughters with speech presentations and offered valuable advice.
Van Zandt County
I truly believe that the 4-H program in general would not be as strong as it is today without the dedication and leadership of my past county Extension agent, Christine Holcombe of Milam County. Chris has a way of not only helping kids succeed in 4-H, but she also helps them see the overall big picture. I am a 4-H leader today because of what Chris and my parents have taught me. Sharing what you know has been the most important characteristic she taught me. I overcame shyness and learned to be a leader and good citizen, thanks to her. She is motivating, energetic, and, above all, has a genuine heart for people and the 4-H program. I have no doubt she has reached thousands of people personally and many more by teaching others to be leaders and good citizens. She helped my parents become outstanding 4-H leaders and, in turn, my family have all both benefited and contributed to help others continue the good will. I was truly blessed to be part of her 4-H program. She has helped me become the leader, parent, and volunteer I am today.
My county Extension agent is Maggie Johnson in Williamson County. Wow! There is not enough space here to let you know how much of an effect Maggie has had on my 4-H career. She is like a teacher to her 4-H’ers. She has taught me so much, especially in the areas of food, nutrition, and the Fashion Project. As well as teaching me about those areas, she has taight me to have poise, self-confidence, and to believe in myself. Maggie has also been a mother to me, in that she cares for us each individually. At Roundup, she drove all the way up here to give me support, even though she had no duties of her own. That support gave me that extra boost of self-confidence to do my best. Maggie has influenced me so much, and I am forever grateful!
My county Extension agent, David D. Wright of Williamson County, has inspired the youth of our county, as well as the adults, to:
My county Extension agent, Mrs. Kim Miles of McLennan County, has been the heartbeat and lifeline of our 4-H experience. From the beginning of our brief 4-H career, she has warmly welcomed our family of eight children into the fold of activity while thoroughly guiding us to and through successful competitions. An optimist, Kim has never known a task of immeasurable possibilities. Kim forever takes the proverbial bull by the horns and conquers. Our children have flourished as a direct result of her can-do attitude and perspective. From our Clover Kids earning Food Show firsts, our intermediates being given leadership opportunities, and our senior being given a scholarship, each of our five 4-H’ers has succeeded in that they have absorbed from the best county Extension agent in Texas. We gratefully thank Kim for taking us, the “new kids on the block,” and embracing us in every way to make us feel at home.
Beverly Harder was the Extension Agent for Family & Consumer Sciences in Deaf Smith County through the 1980s-90s. She left us a remarkable legacy, not measured in worldly feats although there are plenty of those to her credit but in terms of inspiration, diligence and integrity.
We can put breadth and scope to the number of 4-H state titles and awards; we can count the staggering totals of scholarships earned on her watch. But those achievements are transcended by the indelible mark that Beverly made in the lives of our children.
It is said that a teacher affects eternity for she can never tell where her influence ends. Beverly's fine lessons of yesterday live and breathe and grow in the hearts of so many young people, who will forever carry and hand down the honorable standards she instilled. It is no small thing to give a child encouragement, to foster confidence, to expect excellence.
Time and again, Ms. Harder answered the noble calling to teach, to share her considerable knowledge and in doing so, hold our children accountable to the measures we should all aspire to reach.
As parents, we owe Beverly Harder a debt we cannot pay. But the beauty of a fine legacy is that, by its very definition, it is intended to endure, to last, to be well-kept for others who follow. In that way, she inspired us to carry on the distinguished program that she built, day by day, one kid at a time.
What a privilege it has been to know Beverly, to work at her side and to witness the quiet miracle of rambunctious, clueless children who grew into splendid young adults because of one energetic, fun-loving, exacting, open-hearted, honorable woman who cared about each and every one of them.
Mrs. Kerrie Steiert
I am a part-time secretary for Cherokee County, but want to let you know how much 4-H influence has remained in my life.
I was in 4-H in 1950-1953 in Hereford (Deaf Smith County). The Home Demonstration Agent over 4-H was Doris Mahaffey. There was another agent who led the Home Demonstration Clubs (sorry I don't remember her name). The mothers were in Home Demonstration, and the kids were in 4-H.
The clubs were very active; we participated in livestock shows, cooking contests, and sewing contests. Many things we learned in 4-H are still used in our daily lives. My three sisters and all of our children have recipes that were part of our 4-H learning to cook. I can still see Miss Mahaffey showing us how to sift and measure flour. I won a pin for home canning and, when preparing awards for current 4-H awards presentation, comparing the pins, it is still exactly the same. After learning to sew in 4-H, taking Home Ec in school was a snap because all the information both sewing and cooking had been covered in 4-H. Wonderful to remember those good times.
My name is Jerry Hix, I am an adult leader in the Eagle Mountain 4-H club. I just received an email asking for stories about extension agents. As soon as I read it I flashed to Kenneth Singletary. He is the only county extension agent I can remember from my youth. Kenneth, left a lasting impact on my life. I just returned from Brownwood, last weekend, from picking my son up at camp. It had been well over 20 years since I have been there. As soon as I stepped into the auditorium I thought of Kenneth giving his special welcome and closing speech. It is my understanding that Kenneth passed away a few years ago. I just found this out a couple of weeks ago. I regret that I did not get the chance to sit down and tell him what his influence meant to me, and ultimately how it has passed on to my son. So I will tell you a few of the things that I remember vividly about Kenneth Singletary.
I remember Kenneth was an African American man. I also remember how if anyone actually called him that, or what ever the politically correct term was 25 yrs ago, he would simply tell you he was chocolate and we (Anglos) were vanilla. Kenneth always had a smile. I remember that a frown from Kenneth was worse than a beating from my Mom. He had a way of expecting the best from us 4-Hers and we would do anything gain his approval. I remember that Kenneth always encouraged us with kind words and a gentle strength that was much bigger than his small frame.
As I stated earlier Kenneth gave the opening and closing speeches at 4-H camp. One of the biggest impacts he made in my life was teaching me tolerance of other races and cultures. Looking back, Kenneth must have had a hard time with racism. I do not remember any other black 4-H member or adult from Tarrant County. But if he did have a hard time he never it let it show, Kenneth made a point of giving his chocolate and vanilla speech at the beginning of each camp. To this day I still remember the general idea of his message, and I try to pass that on to my son and the 4-H'ers I lead.
Kenneth had a great sense of humor. He used to stay with us in our dorm during camp. He put up with our short sheeting his bed, and trying to carry him and his bunk outside while he slept. The camp prank that stands out in my memories happened at least once and possibly more. The time that I remember, Kenneth handled it in a way that even 25 years later I still respect him for. Now, understand that I did not take part in actually performing this prank, but I laughed so I consider myself just as guilty. Kenneth had a routine that you could set a clock to. He would announce lights out and them he would go to take a shower. Unlike us, Kenneth always had a made bed, sheets, blanket, military style. One night when he went to shower an older 4-H'er pulled Kenneth's sheets back and poured a large bottle of baby powder in his bed, spread it out all over, and re made his bed. When Kenneth returned, as usual he jumped right into bed and covered up. Well, you can imagine that we all were snickering. When Kenneth figured out that something was up and got out of bed, he looked like a ghost. By now the room was in full uproar, myself included. At this point in the story, I'll say if it were me instead of Kenneth, you would probably still be hearing the camp fire stories of the county extension agent that killed a dorm full of hoodlums. But not Kenneth--oh, I'm sure he was plenty mad at us, but I remember he laughed and scolded and laughed, and taught us more about sensitivity than anyone I have ever known.
I hope that if there are any awards for past agents that Kenneth is nominated for one. I would gladly come tell my story, if asked.
Jerry R. Hix
Eagle Mountain 4-H club
As a "semi-retired" 4-H Adult Leader I want to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the two folk that are the glue that holds Jones County together; Martha Alice Sprayberry(CEA-FCS) and Todd Vineyard(CEA-AG/NR). Not only do these agents provide vision and leadership,their tireless endeavors for the 4-H program is unparalled! Their encouragement and support to the 4-H members and families to reach/surpass their goals is undergirded with the upmost integrity and values... I have the highest respect and admiration for Martha Alice and Todd, and confess my sin of lying by telling people that they are My Kids! They both are the epitome and personification of the model agent, and we are blessed to have them.
I have the privilege of occasionally being afforded to opportunity to volunteer for the Taylor County 4-H. The "funtastic times" are made possible by Agent Kit Horn (and I tease him by telling him the only way I can "help out" is for him to sign a pass to get me out of the nursing home). I am always deeply touched by Kit's total commitment and
dedication to the program, the 4-Hers and their families. To say that he gives 100% is a gross understatement... Kit Horn and 4-H are synonymous, and Taylor County 4-H is indebted to this incredible gentleman!
My County Extension Agent growing up in Waller, TX was David McGregor. Mr. McGregor always encouraged me to be active in 4-H, and he would cut out the newspaper articles of me and other 4-Hers and post them to his office door. As a young person, it would always make me feel so proud to see my name or picture on his door for everyone to see. I won't ever forget that Mr. McGregor wrote a letter for me after I graduated college, and I still keep it in my desk drawer. It explained how proud he was of me graduating from Texas A&M University, and that we both shared the pride of being the first in our families to graduate from college. David spent 28 years serving as the Waller County Ag Extension Agent. After his retirement, he helped me get his former position. Now I serve the people of the county, and in the same role he did. I am proud for Mr. McGregor to now call me his county agent!
J. Cody Dennison
Texas Cooperative Extension
The impact 4-H had on my life is easy to identify but almost impossible to calculate. As a freshman high school student from Floresville, Texas, I seldom ventured far from Wilson County. Other than working on area ranches or visits to Mathis Lake. I was the typical small-town Texas boy. My dreams focused on "when is the next coon hunt?" and "I can’t wait for the next dance in Cestohowa."
Three people, two events, three locations, and a construct called 4-H conspired to broaden these dreams. My County Extension Agent, Vernor Bippert, provided the catalyst for my ambition and the framework for me to seek out and gain success through youth livestock projects. Nelson Jacobs, District Extension 4-H Specialist, exposed me to leadership opportunities and diverse learning experiences that previously I could not have imagined. The 4-H leader with the greatest impact was Mata Orth, the Floresville Junior and Senior 4-H Club Manager. Mrs. Orth believed in me as she believed in all of the club members. She challenged us to lead, to commit to service, and to be successful with our projects. She challenged us to do more than we thought we were capable of and, often, more than we thought we wanted to do.
The events and the locations that changed the course of my life through 4-H are interconnected and specifically identifiable. The Texas 4-H Center and 4-H Summer Camp was the only youth camping experience I ever participated in; and for me, like many youth, it was the hook that insured I would be a 4-H'er until I graduated. The Hershey Hotel in Corpus Christi was the site of the next most significant event in my 4-H experience. The Hershey was the location of the District 12/14 4-H Gold Star Banquet. This one event signified to me that I was worth something outside of Floresville, Texas. It was the recognition I needed to broaden my self-worth.
State Roundup and Texas A&M University showed me opportunity beyond the ranch work of Wilson County. Prior to my participation in the State 4-H Roundup Livestock Judging Contest, I had no vision of a life outside of Wilson County, nor did I have a vision that included a college degree. Prior to this experience, my greatest aspiration was to operate a bulldozer. In Wilson County, this was what you did if wanted to clear mesquite, and for a 14-year-old small-town kid, that sounded pretty good.
Twenty years after those defining experiences, I am still in pursuit of higher education. Within the next three years I will earn my PhD in Agricultural Education. My 4-H objective for the future is to share the dreams that 4-H has afforded me, as a leader, a parent, and as an Extension professional.