Florida 4-H alumnus Morris Steen says 4-H is one of his favorite things to talk about. His lifelong commitment to the program shows just how passionate he is about youth development.
“The tenets of 4-H have followed me throughout my life,” he says.
“Growing up in Shady Grove, a small rural community in north Florida, almost all the children attended the Shady Grove School. And all were involved in the 4-H Club in some way,” he says. “4-H brought structure to our lives in that it taught us how to keep records, manage our projects, compete in livestock judging, public speaking, and tractor driving contests, and plan for our future. It was leadership training at its finest! What we learned in 4-H Club was nearly as important as what we were being taught in the classroom. It certainly augmented our formal classroom education.”
In 1957, he was a state 4-H award winner and attended the 4-H National Congress in Chicago. “I believe I may have been the first 4-H member from Taylor County to attend 4-H National Congress,” he says. “I attended the 4-H Short Course at UF in Gainesville every summer from 1955 to 1959 and served as a senator on the State 4-H Council. During my freshman year at UF, I was in the Collegiate 4-H Club on Campus.”
Following graduation from the University of Florida, Morris entered the United States Navy and spent 27 years as a naval aviator, culminating in command of Naval Air Station, Mayport, Florida. Morris went on to become the president of North Florida Community College and was involved in Madison and Taylor counties’ 4-H programs. “My wife and I recently had the opportunity to participate as judges of local 4-H presentations here in Taylor County. They were all excellent. It was an eye-opener to see what the 4-H members are doing today compared to what I did years ago. I would highly recommend it to any 4-H alum or any adult who enjoys and celebrates the success of our youth,” he says.
Morris is currently chair of the Henry Davis Scholarship Committee in Taylor County. The scholarship committee provides scholarships to deserving, financially needy 4-H members to attend Camp Cherry Lake in Madison County each summer.
Are you a Florida 4-H alumni? Give back to the 4-H community by voting for Florida in the Raise Your Hand campaign. Your vote will help support opportunities for current Florida 4-H members.