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Five to Be Inducted into Florida 4-H Hall of Fame

By Chasity Turner

Florida 4-H is pleased to announce the 2019 UF/IFAS Extension Florida 4-H Hall of Fame inductees. The Florida 4-H Hall of Fame was established in 2002 to recognize outstanding 4-H leaders who have contributed to the 4-H program. This prestigious ceremony will take place July 31 at the University of Florida J. Wayne Reitz Union from 5 to 7 p.m. Friends and alumni of Florida 4-H are invited to attend the induction by registering at bit.ly/4HHOF19.

Ronda Banner

From serving as a state 4-H officer to becoming a 4-H volunteer, Ronda Banner has been destined for such recognition.  Admired by many, Banner has left a mark on every youth and adult she has encountered.

“She exemplifies what 4-H is about – head, heart, health and hands,” said 4-H volunteer Emily Eubanks.

Banner grew up in 4-H, where she was a member of the 4-Hoofs 4-H Club in 1974. Her interests were in fashion, cooking and horse care. She competed in many events and was elected the president of the Florida 4-H State Council in 1982. After 15 years as the Micanopy Friendship 4-H Club leader she retired, but even then, she couldn’t stay away from 4-H.

“Ronda has learned by doing in 4-H, and she now teaches 4-H’ers, volunteers and leaders to do the same.” said Sarah Wolking, Micanopy Friendship 4-H co-leader.

Bobby Beagles

As executive director with the Orange County Farm Bureau and 4-H volunteer, Bobby Beagles has provided emotional and financial support along with other resources to the UF/IFAS Extension 4-H Orange County program and other Extension programs. Beagles has been instrumental in providing support for youth livestock and judging team projects, and was an advocate for legislative funding to create a new Extension facility in Orange County.

His extensive involvement in the community includes service on numerous advisory boards throughout the years. Beagles has chaired the overall UF/IFAS Extension Advisory Board and still serves on the board today.

“Any time you can help our youth, you have invested in their future. Just one kind word, one investment, can make a difference in a child’s life,” Beagles said.

Elaine Faison

For more than twenty-five years, Faison was the 4-H program assistant for UF/IFAS Extension Gilchrist County. As the “Mother of Gilchrist County 4-H,” she brought many opportunities to the rural area and exposed youth to more than they could grasp on their own. Faison encouraged local youth to get involved in National 4-H Congress, as well as national conferences, competitions, scholarships and much more.

Faison had the ability to help 4-H youth exceed their own expectations.

According to Florida 4-H Interim Program Leader Stacey Ellison, “She was an incredible mentor to me, and quite frankly the reason I sought a career with 4-H.”

Faison passed away in 2015.

Gene Holcomb

Holcomb has served UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County and Florida 4-H for about 40 years. He has been involved with the Hillsborough County 4-H Foundation; active on the Florida 4-H Dairy Youth Committee; and helped organized state-level dairy judging contests. Among his many roles, he has served as a club leader and a coach to the youth. Holcomb is one of the reasons Florida youth have excelled in cattle judging competitions. He also coached the Florida 4-H dairy judging team that won first place at the national competition in Louisville, Kentucky.

“Gene will get up way before daylight to group cattle for youth to practice judging and will stay up all night listening to oral reasons to ensure Florida youth succeed,” said Chris DeCubellis, animal sciences 4-H state specialized agent.

F. Ben Mather

Mather served as the associate professor emeritus and UF/IFAS Extension poultry specialist for decades. While organizing and hosting the State 4-H Poultry Judging Contest, he has encouraged and mentored youth as well as adults. His legacy continues in UF/IFAS, Florida 4-H poultry program and 4-H programs nationwide.

“As a 4-H’er, I was always so incredibly struck by how kind Dr. Mather was,” Stacey Ellison said. Although he has since retired, he has continued to stay active with the 4-H poultry projects.

Friends and alumni of Florida 4-H are invited to attend the induction by registering at bit.ly/4HHOF19. Table and youth sponsorships are available. For more information please contact Caylin Hilton at cnewbern@ufl.edu or 352.392.5432.

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The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS works to bring science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents. Visit the UF/IFAS web site at ifas.ufl.edu and follow us on social media at @UF_IFAS.

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