GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Since 2002, Florida 4-H has inducted 183 members into the Florida 4-H Hall of Fame. This prestigious ceremony recognizes outstanding individuals who have made significant contributions to 4-H and their community. Members exemplify the 4-H motto to make the best better through citizenship, leadership, career and character, and are champions for Florida’s youth with the 4-H Youth Development Program.
This year, the Florida 4-H Foundation is pleased to announce Susan MacManus, Kim Massagee, Vicki Meriwether, Hal Porter and Donald Richard Sellers as the 2020 inductees to the Florida 4-H Hall of Fame.
Susan MacManus, PhD
As a teenager, Susan MacManus served on the Florida 4-H State Council as the historian and parliamentarian, and during her college years she served as a 4-H camp recreational director. Her experience with 4-H led her to become a political science professor at the University of South Florida (USF).
Each year MacManus speaks to the freshman honor students at USF and credits her ability and confidence as a public speaker to her years of involvement in 4-H.
MacManus continues to be an advocate for Florida 4-H programs by representing 4-H in Tallahassee and speaking with state legislators and university leadership about the importance of 4-H.
“I have been amazed at the support Dr. MacManus has shown for the program, doing whatever she can to help out 4-H at the local and state level,” said Jean Hink, 4-H agent emerita with UF/IFAS Extension Pasco County.
From growing up on a dairy farm to chairing the dairy committee, Massagee has always had a special place for dairy in her heart. For more than 20 years, Massagee served as a mentor and leader providing youth with the opportunity to compete in state and local dairy cattle shows.
Florida 4-H has always been a safe place for youth to be themselves, and Massagee made sure to create that environment for her own 4-H members. “With compassionate generosity and kindness, Kim helped many youth get involved with 4-H,” shared Cindy Sanders, director of UF/IFAS Extension Alachua County.
“We often think of leaders as positional; but she embodied leadership in practice,” said Genevieve Mendoza, former 4-H agent with UF/IFAS Extension Levy County.
Massagee’s passion for 4-H brought many opportunities to her community and exposed the youth to more than they could grasp on their own.
“She had a gentle, yet fierce way about her. She truly cared about making an impact on tomorrow’s generation through her leadership as a board member of the Alachua County Livestock Show and Youth Fair, and as club leader of the Archer Trailblazers 4-H Club,” said Mendoza.
For 30 years, Vicki Meriwether has been a leader, volunteer and mentor for many in the 4-H program at UF/IFAS Extension Seminole County. Her mentees describe her character as professional, compassionate and influential.
“Anyone who had the privilege of being in Vicki Meriwether’s 4-H club grew to be a better individual,” said Thomas Quinn, 4-H alumnus and youth member from 1989 to 1997.
As a former educator, Meriwether made sure she instilled the importance of education in each youth with whom she worked. Through Meriwether’s nonstop mentorship and leadership, she introduced experiences and skills to youth in hopes of creating pathways to success for years to come. She has taught generations of youth how to cook, sew, develop record books, write resumes, lead and much more.
“Not only has she prepared the children under her direction for future involvement in their communities, she has provided them with the knowledge and skills necessary for their success in life,” said Garth Shoemaker, a former 4-H parent.
Porter started his lifelong 4-H membership at age 9 when he joined the Ease’s Rough Riders 4-H Club. He continues to serve Citrus County and local Florida 4-H programs as a Citrus County Fair director, current fair manager and Citrus County 4-H Foundation president.
“Mr. Hal Porter continues to promote and sustain community support for the Citrus County 4-H program as a 4-H volunteer,” said Marnie Ward, 4-H agent for UF/IFAS Extension Citrus County. “Under his stewardship, the Foundation provides financial support and community advocacy for positive youth development with school enrichment, residential camping, volunteer training and much more.”
Porter is known as a great citizen who provides leadership in all facets of his involvement with 4-H and youth in the Citrus County. His hard work and honesty rings loud in the community, shared J. J. Grow.
As a productive citizen, Hal Porter continues his leadership within 4-H to further impact and advocate for youth by promoting a learn-by-doing approach so youth can continue to gain knowledge and skills. He continues to pledge his hands to larger service as he says, “to pay back for what I benefited in the 4-H program.”
Donald Richard Sellers
Among his many attributes, Sellers was a pivotal club leader and volunteer in the UF/IFAS Extension Okeechobee and Palm Beach County 4-H programs. He was also involved in Florida Farm Bureau and was an instructor at Indian River State College.
Sellers expertise in agriculture helped 4-H youth gain valuable industry insight.
“He was a great person who shared his knowledge with anyone who came across his path. Known as the farmer’s farmer, he was sought after by many for his expertise in the agricultural industry and is well deserving of this honor,” said Carrie Muldoon, 4-H program assistant with UF/IFAS Extension Okeechobee County.
In addition to agriculture and nutrition programs, he was deeply involved in shooting sports and other educational outdoor recreation programs. He served more than 20 years as a Florida Fish & Wildlife Hunter Safety Instructor, gaining regional and statewide recognition.
Due to extensive involvement in his community Sellers was elected president of the Florida Lettuce Mosaic Committee, named an Honorary Star Farmer by Okeechobee FFA and voted agriculturist of the year.
The 2020 Florida 4-H Hall of Fame inductions are planned for fall/winter 2020. For updates please subscribe to the 4-H Alumni + Friends Community at http://eepurl.com/gY9ZND or email Caylin Hilton at grow4H@ifas.ufl.edu. If you would like to nominate an individual for the Florida 4-H Hall of Fame, please visit https://give.ifas.ufl.edu/4h-form/.
4-H is the youth development program of the land-grant university system and Cooperative Extension System. The program provides hands-on educational programs and experiences for youth ages 5-18 with the objective of developing youth as individuals, and as responsible and productive citizens. In Florida, 4-H is administered by University of Florida IFAS Extension and Florida A&M University. The Florida 4-H Hall of Fame is administered by the Florida 4-H Foundation, a direct support organization of the University of Florida.