GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The Florida 4-H Hall of Fame recognizes outstanding 4-H alumni, volunteers, professionals and leaders who have made significant contributions to the 4-H community and beyond. This year, Florida 4-H is pleased to announce LeAnn Barber, Linda Denning and Morris Steen as the 2021 Florida 4-H Hall of Fame inductees.
On Friday, July 30, 2021, the Florida 4-H Foundation will celebrate and recognize the 2021 and 2020 inductees at the University of Florida Reitz Union in Gainesville, FL. For event information and registration visit: https://tinyurl.com/4HFame21.
Like many, LeAnn Barber grew up as a youth in 4-H. Barber now serves as a 4-H club leader, Broward 4-H Association member and has served six years on the Florida 4-H Foundation Board of Directors.
Barber exemplifies what it means to make the best better through her many efforts in Broward County 4-H. With her sharp business practices and generosity, Broward County 4-H has been able to fund and maintain an annual county fair, as well as other 4-H events and sponsorships.
In addition, Barber has been an advocate for creating equity and opportunities for underserved youth in urban areas. Through her Flagler Monarchs 4-H Club and her organization Made in Broward, youth members literally get their hands dirty as they learn the value of agriculture and hard work, actively participate in entrepreneurial and cottage industry projects, and ultimately develop skills and confidence to be contributing citizens and leaders. The club has built two resourceful food forest gardens in low-income communities, encouraging neighbors and volunteers to engage with one another for a higher purpose.
“In all her efforts, she inspires me. She cultivates a life of purpose, engaging with all those around her and allowing them opportunities for growth and change. She preaches the value of 4-H as if it were her own, because it is,” said Elizabeth Lavely, Training and Education Specialist Broward County 4-H.
Through her charitable efforts and love for 4-H, Broward County and Florida 4-H members can have a brighter future.
For 30 years Linda Denning dedicated her life to the Collier County 4-H program. Most have described her character as determined, positive and influential.
“There had been close to five years between Linda’s retirement and my start time,” said Tish Roland, Collier County 4-H agent. “I was in awe of what Linda had done with the 4-H program. Linda has touched many lives in positive ways. A true role model.”
She enjoyed working with teens and volunteers, helping them to make the best better within their own communities.
Denning’s learn by doing approach led to one of her greatest accomplishments, the creation of the Know Your County Government program in conjunction with Collier Public Schools and League of Women Voters. An annual event that brings high school youth together to learn about their county government.
Denning encouraged her leaders to try new learning styles to help expand the minds of youth. Throughout her career, Denning devoted her life to the education of young people in hopes of creating a better place for the Collier County community through citizenship and leadership programs.
“Linda was wonderful as a program leader and always made sure that her volunteer leaders had the training and tools, they needed to engage youth in hands-on, experiential learning activities,” says Trisha Aldridge, Collier County 4-H Outreach Coordinator. “She was a great person to work for and a great mentor to me. Linda always encouraged me to think outside of the box and be creative in the programs I offered.”
As an outspoken advocate for 4-H, Morris Steen has exemplified the 4-H pledge through his achievements and efforts towards the 4-H program. Steen began his 4-H journey at ten years of age, and from there his passion for 4-H camping and leadership grew.
After graduating from the University of Florida College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Steen would go on to serve as an aviator in the United States Navy, retiring as Captain and Commander of the Naval Air Station at Mayport, and later becoming president of North Florida College. Steen attributes his successful career path to the life lessons he learned in the Taylor County 4-H program.
“Mr. Morris Steen is a true American hero as well as Florida 4-H hero. His leadership skills, citizenship, career accomplishments and character exemplify the 4-H program,” says Beth Moore, Madison County 4-H Agent.
While serving on Taylor County’s Henry Davis 4-H Scholarship Committee, Steen and members worked together to permanently endow the Henry Davis scholarship with the University of Florida Foundation. Morris and Judy Steen cemented their 4-H legacy with an investment in the future of 4-H Camp Cherry Lake in Madison, FL. Additionally, Steen’s efforts helped secure more than $60,000 toward the renovation and expansion of the camp’s recreational pavilion, recently dedicated in honor of Steen’s childhood 4-H agent and lifelong mentors, Henry and Nell Davis.
With Steen’s extensive involvement in the community and Florida 4-H Foundation, generations of youth will have the opportunity to grow and develop life skills in the 4-H program.
“Having known Morris and his family for many years, I have watched him live out the 4-H pledge as a leader in my community as well as a hero for our country. Working with him on boards and sharing a common passion to support youth development through 4-H programming has meant a great deal to me over the last several years,” says Abbey Tharpe, 4-H Extension Agent, Taylor County. “He is the type of leader that says what he means and means what he says. He is a doer. He is a hands-on let’s get to work and see something completed type of leader.”
Florida 4-H is the land-grant youth development program providing hands-on educational programs and experiences for youth ages 5-18 through a diverse portfolio of project areas. In Florida, 4-H is administered by University of Florida/IFAS Extension and Florida A&M University.