4-H Fix: Hall of Fame, 4-H Style

Hall of Fame, 4-H Style

By Ron Drum, Statewide 4-H Program Professional/Associate Director 4-H Resource Development

If you are a dyed-in-the-wool 4-H’er, there are few 4-H experiences that rise to match that of turning off of Connecticut Avenue in Chevy Chase, MD and driving up the National 4-H Center’s driveway toward J.C. Penney Hall. Ask any 4-H’er who has attended CWF! They’ll tell you! But to be going there to attend the National Association of Extension 4-H Agent’s National 4-H Hall of Fame Laureate Induction Ceremony is icing on the cake!

National 4-H Hall of FameThe National 4-H Hall of Fame is the home of all of those the 4-H Community deems to be so special to the 4‑H movement that their memory needs to be enshrined. Including the 16 in the Class of 2016, there are now 346 individuals so enshrined. The “hall” itself, is a searchable web-based database anyone with an internet connection can visit. If you’d like, visit the National 4-H Hall of Fame page on the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents (NAE4-HA) website.

Eddie receiving his induction certificate. (left to right) Dr. Lisa Lauxman, Director, Division of Youth and 4-H, NIFA, USDA; Kimberly Gressley, NAE4-HA Past-President; Eddie; Caroline Fernandez, Office of the President and CEO, National 4-H Council.
Eddie receiving his induction certificate. (left to right) Dr. Lisa Lauxman, Director, Division of Youth and 4-H, NIFA, USDA; Kimberly Gressley, NAE4-HA Past-President; Eddie; Caroline Fernandez, Office of the President and CEO, National 4-H Council.

I just returned from there. Not the website, the National 4-H Center. I had been invited to attend the induction ceremony of my former supervisor, Dr. Eddie L. Locklear!

If you want to know more about Eddie, you can now read all about him in the National 4-H Hall of Fame! If you do read about him, you’ll learn that he is from North Carolina but don’t hold that against him. He and his wife, Brenda, visited Maine in April and, since it didn’t snow in April this year, they enjoyed it a great deal.

Phyllis and Eddie in front of "Welcome to Maine" sign at the Visitor Center, Kittery, MaineHere is Eddie and my wife, Phyllis, who traveled with Eddie and Brenda on the trip north, happy to have finally reached Maine. Brenda was taking the picture.

Eddie said they had come to visit me, but I actually think it was for the lobsters we had in Bar Harbor. They’d never had Maine lobsters before, but, again, don’t hold that against them. After all, they did drive all the way up to Bangor (which is a lot further north in Maine than many people from away get!), met the Bangor Police Duck of Justice, and got their picture taken with Paul Bunyan!

Paul Bunyan statue, Brenda Locklear, and Phyllis DrumI took this photo. Left to right, Paul Bunyan, Brenda Locklear, and Phyllis. Eddie was off to the right someplace taking photos of his own.

Another friend of mine in the Hall of Fame is Dan Tabler. The Hall was his idea. He started talking about it back in 1977. They finally decided to establish the Hall in 2002, I think just to shut him up! Actually, it was the perfect way to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 4-H movement. So, since it was there, it was only right to enshrine Dan in it! Truth be told, his idea or not, Dan belongs in a national 4-H Hall of Fame! I know. I had the privilege to work with Dan on a number of projects, one being the 4-H stories book “4-H Stories From the Heart.”

Cover of 4-H Stories From the Heart, National Association of Extension 4-H Agents, edited by Dan TablerIf you get a chance to read that book, you’ll find a story on page 179 written by two sisters from West Paris, Maine. If the story sounds familiar, it means you read about them in my first blog “Scrambling to Change the World.”

It is great fun to be able to say that I know, or knew, a few of the Laurates; ok, 55, but who’s counting? One you may know is Harold Brown, better known as “Brownie”! He was inducted in 2005.

I first met Brownie in 1992. I was looking for a new job so I answered an ad I saw in the Boston Globe for a State 4-H Events Coordinator at the University of Maine. The UMaine State 4-H Office was seeking someone to coordinate all their statewide 4-H events and out-of-state trips, which, by the way, included all the animal science commodity committees. Not knowing what I was getting into, I applied. Brownie and Thea Cloutier, State 4-H Administrator at the time, invited me for an interview and then offered me the job.

Famous for welcoming people with a hearty, burley, Downeast-twinged, “Well, hello there big fella’!” followed by an engulfing bear (or should I say Brownie) hug, Brownie welcomed me to the staff no different! We worked side by side until he retired in 1996 and then continued on as a volunteer working with the Pine Tree State 4-H Foundation, now known simply as Maine 4-H Foundation.

Brownie grew up in the 1930s roaming the mountains of Rumford, Maine. When World War II broke out he was still too young to serve, but he was able to enlist in the Navy for service in Korea serving as a Corpsman in the Marines. Taking advantage of the GI Bill, upon receiving his discharge Brownie enrolled in the University of Maine graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Education in 1961. Knowing he wanted to help people, he put his new degree to work by beginning his career as the Agricultural Extension Agent in Waldo County. As the Ag Agent, Brownie earned both the National Association of County Agricultural Agents Achievement Award and Distinguished Service Award.

Recognizing his ability with people, in 1969 Brownie was asked to take on the role of County 4-H Agent in which he served for 10 years until his services were required at the State 4-H Office. Moving to the Orono office in 1979 he was elevated to State 4-H Program Coordinator in 1981. Recognizing the importance of a strong 4-H Club base to the 4‑H Program, Brownie worked hard to maintain 4-H Clubs in Maine in the 1980s. Understanding the role National 4-H Congress plays in the 4-H programs across the country, he worked hard to keep National 4-H Congress alive in the 1990s. Understanding the importance of people connecting on a one-on-one basis to establishing world peace and understanding, he worked hard in the 1990s into the early 2000s to keep 4-H International programs active in Maine.

He was awarded a few national 4-H awards, too. Among them, the NAE4-HA Achievement and Distinguished Service Awards. Then, in 2005, as I watched from the audience that evening, Harold Brown walked across the National 4-H Center’s stage in Ketner Hall to be inducted into the National 4-H Hall of Fame. I think he hugged me that evening, too!

Harold "Brownie" Brown and Ron DrumI had left Maine in 1999 to work “away” for a while, returning to the State 4-H Staff in 2015. On my fourth day back, as I approached Corbett Hall that morning to go to my office, I saw an older gentleman entering ahead of me. We nodded hello as I passed him and, not too long after that, as I sat at my desk, I noticed this same fellow walking down the hall. He passed my door and stopped at a colleague’s office where I heard him ask, “Do you know where I can find Ron Drum’s office?” I may not have recognized the man after 10 years, but I sure recognized that burly voice with a twinge of Downeast accent! Before he got his answer I was standing beside him. “Come’ere big fellow!” he said and, you guessed it, I found myself engulfed in another “Brownie hug.”

Two friends meet again after 10 years (hint: I’m the one wearing the brown shirt).

So far, Maine has seen, including Brownie, four of her 4-H community members enshrined in the National 4-H Hall of Fame. Joining Brownie are Gladys Conant, Fred Hutchinson, and K.C. Lovejoy.

Gladys Conant was 97 years old when she died in 2005, still enrolled as a 4-H Volunteer. She had served Maine 4-H as a 4-H Volunteer for 68 of those 97 years. Her club, the Canton Busy Workers 4-H Club, was famous in Maine and across the country, being one of the longest continually operating 4‑H Clubs in the country. Started in 1927 by her husband, J. Carlton Conant, Gladys became the organizational leader in 1938. Her 4-H resume tells of many 4-H advancements in Oxford County, Maine, and the New England region, which earned her numerous awards and honors including having the Oxford County Fair 4-H Exhibits Hall named in her honor. To say she played a positive role in the lives of thousands of 4-H members would not be an exaggeration. She was a wonderful person I am so very proud to have met.

Dr. Frederick Hutchinson is another person I am honored and proud to have met. In fact, I worked for him for a while. Well, not directly. I was a member of the state 4-H Staff when he was serving as President of the University of Maine, making him my “ultimate” boss. We both started here in 1992. He retired in 1997. I stayed on until 1999. He served 4-H as a board member, and then President, of the National 4-H Council Board of Trustees, also in the ’90s. According to Dr. Hutchinson, 4-H served him, as well, when he was a 4-H Member growing up in Atkinson, Maine. Of 4-H he once said, “Belonging to 4-H was one of the most important things, if not the most important, that I ever did.” Dr. Hutchinson died in 2010 at the age of 79, two months short of his 80th birthday.

Longevity seems to be a Maine watchword. Kenneth C. Lovejoy, better known to Maine 4-H’ers as KC, lived to be 101, many of those years lived in service to Maine 4-H. He was appointed as one of Maine’s first five 4-H Agents in 1928 at the age of 21. His county was Waldo. Effie Jones covered Kennebec, Evelyn Plummer was assigned Oxford, Corinne Merrill was in Penobscot, and Earle T. Blodgett was appointed in York.

In 1935 KC was appointed as the State 4-H Leader, a role he retired from after 28 years, in 1963, making him the state’s longest-serving Maine State 4-H Leader to date. Given what he did next, you can almost hear him saying, “You can’t get rid of me this easily!” (not that he ever did, or would, say anything like that!). Because what he did next was serve 27 years as the 100% volunteer Executive Director of the Pine Tree State 4-H Foundation. KC lived his final years in Florida, passing away in 2008. According to his National 4-H Hall of Fame bio written in 2003, he was still a 4-H enthusiast at that time, so we can safely assume he was a 4-H enthusiast ’til the day he died. He was certainly a 4-H enthusiast the day I was honored to meet and privileged to shake the hand of, Kenneth C. Lovejoy.

If you haven’t done so already, visit the National 4-H Hall of Fame page on the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents (NAE4-HA) website. See anyone YOU know? If so, write or email me and tell me about it. You may find yourself in a future “4-H Fix”!

Don’t miss our next post on November 15! It’ll talk about helping the Maine 4-H Foundation raise money to support your Maine 4-H program

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University of Maine Cooperative Extension conducts the state’s most successful out-of-school youth educational program through 4-H, a positive youth development program that has been empowering young people in Maine to reach their full potential since 1913.