How It Happened: Youth Access To Opportunities with 4-H Expands

As the nation and state’s largest positive youth development program, 4-H provides youth with hands-on learning opportunities to develop knowledge and life skills that equip them to be productive, responsible citizens. Through 4-H youth discover pathways to educational and career success, and ignite sparks that set them on a trajectory to thrive in life.

Thanks to passionate alumni and friends, Florida 4-H was bolstered with new scholarships, endowments and more over the course of the University of Florida’s Go Greater Campaign. This generous investment significantly increases the access youth have to experiential learning opportunities through 4-H.

“Access to 4-H programs that build foundational skills, like critical thinking and professionalism, changes lives,” said Dr. Stacey Ellison, 4-H State Program Leader. “I am immensely grateful to our supporters for recognizing the generational impacts of 4-H and helping make these life-shaping opportunities available for even more youth in the years to come.”

Endowments are an important resource because they provide dependable support year after year. Visionary philanthropists saw the impact of 4-H programs on the future of our communities, country and world. Highlighted below are just a few of the investments made in Florida’s youth through 4-H, and the stories behind how they happened.


After supporting local 4-H youth with travel funds and other program activities, and seeing the potential for 4-H to impact lives, siblings Jimmy and Benita Boyd created the Jimmy and Benita S. Boyd St. Johns County 4-H Endowment to provide a permanent source of support for 4-H programs in St. Johns County. Through their estate plans, they have committed to growing this investment in the young people of their local communities. They’re also cultivating the next generation of Extension and 4-H professionals who will leads these programs through their support of the UF/IFAS CALS Extension Internship Program.

Recognizing the importance of fostering civic engagement and leadership in the next generation, the Clay County 4-H Foundation and former state Sen. Rob Bradley established the Senator Rob Bradley 4-H Leadership Endowment. This funds helps Clay County youth attend the annual Florida 4-H Legislature, a week-long mock legislative session in Tallahassee.

George and Carolyn Richardson congratulate scholarship recipient Will Ward, along with Hal Porter, at 4-HU Senior Awards Banquet. Photo by UF/IFAS 2023

Florida 4-H is proud to offer educational scholarships to support member post-secondary education, including colleges, universities and technical/trade programs. This year, more than $67,000 was awarded to 4-H members for educational scholarships and leadership development scholarships to attend National 4-H leadership programs in collaboration with the Florida 4-H Foundation.

The Florida 4-H Scholarship portfolio has grown significantly through the generous investment of donors. Scholarships honor the legacies of these individuals by supporting the next generation on their journey to becoming leaders, for today and tomorrow.

  • George and Carolyn Richardson, lifelong friends of Hal Porter, created the Hal Porter 4-H Scholarship to honor his passion and devotion as a 4-H alumnus, volunteer, advocate and Hall of Fame member. The first award was presented this summer at Florida 4-H University to Citrus County 4-H member Will Ward.
  • Friends and family remember Teki Hinton Ericson, and the impact of 4-H in her life, through the scholarship in her name. Three Hillsborough County 4-H members are pursuing their college degrees with help from this scholarship.
  • Larry and Debbie Swindle, longtime advocates for youth agricultural education and leadership development, honored former UF/IFAS Dean for Extension with the Dr. Nick Place 4-H Leadership Endowment. Their investment has provided 10 youth with scholarships to state and regional leadership programs.

Florida’s three 4-H Camps are places where kids have ventured for decades to grow, explore the outdoors and make friends. They are spaces for youth to learn skills that prepare them for the future and ignite sparks that fuel their curiosities and passions in life. 4-H Camp holds a special place in the hearts of many.

Morris and Judy Steen know the power of 4-H, camp and adult mentors. They established the 4-H Camp Cherry Lake Endowment to provide dependable facility maintenance funds and honor lifelong mentor and friend Henry Davis. Mr. Davis served 32-years with UF/IFAS Extension, 28 of which he spent as the County Agent and Director in Taylor County, including as 4-H agent to a young Morris. Recognizing this investment in the future of Cherry Lake, the renovated and expanded educational pavilion was named for Henry and Nell Davis and the indelible impacts they had in the lives of youth across the region. A few years prior, local community leaders honored Mr. Davis’s legacy by permanently endowing the local Henry Davis 4-H Scholarship to help Taylor County youth attend 4-H Camp Cherry Lake.

Want to help youth find their spark with 4-H? Give online or contact Caylin Hilton (, 352-392-1975) to discuss how you can make an impact through 4-H.

The “How it Happened” series showcases the transformational gifts made by donors to UF/IFAS during the University of Florida’s Go Greater Campaign. To learn more about creating your own impact through UF/IFAS programs with a charitable gift, please visit our website at or call the IFAS Advancement office at 352-392-1975.


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Posted: November 27, 2023

Category: 4-H & Youth, UF/IFAS, UF/IFAS Extension
Tags: 4-H, 4-H Scholarship, 4-H Youth Development, Endowment, Go Greater, How It Happened

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