Past state presidents gather at 4-H University

Mary Ann Van Osdell, Eskew, Eric A.  |  7/2/2011 12:10:18 AM

News Release Distributed 07/01/11

BATON ROUGE, La. – Sixteen former state 4-H presidents dating back to 1959 met at a reception June 23 in LSU’s Tiger Stadium before the final assembly of the LSU AgCenter’s 4-H University.

The last time past 4-H presidents gathered was in 1994.

“It is an honor to give you honor,” said LSU AgCenter vice chancellor Paul Coreil. “Every one of you built 4-H to a higher level.”

Coreil told the former presidents that local support from parishes has gone up threefold over the past five years.

“We have to keep this going,” he said. “Please advocate for us. We don’t sacrifice the future because of a budget crisis. We still need your help, guidance and input and your prayers.”

Ramon Bailey, of Chicago, 2004 president, encouraged the other presidents to give “as much as you can give, your hands, your heart. If you can give it all, you could never repay the impact 4-H has. It is a part of your past, your present and your future.”

Stan Tiner, of Gulfport, Miss., 1959 president, said he grew up on a farm in Blanchard and fed cows and played football.

“Everybody I knew was Baptist or Methodist, but 4-H had a unifying way of bringing us together,” he said. “It brought faiths and outlooks together. I heard people that talked different than I did.”

Tiner presided over National 4-H Congress in Chicago and attended a national conference in Washington, D.C. “I saw Sen. John F. Kennedy get on an elevator,” he said. “In the Rose Garden, I met Dwight Eisenhower and had my picture in the Washington Star.”

He met his wife at 4-H Camp 50 years ago. She was 14, and they saw each other over a number of years. While a Marine in Vietnam, he thought of her and sent a postcard to her town, not even knowing her address. They have been married 44 years.

“I hope young presidents create new narratives, new stories, new truths,” Tiner said. “4-H has ways of making Louisiana a better state.”

Gabe Stelly, current 4-H president, told his predecessors that today’s elections include an application, interview, grading scale and Clover Points award achievement program.

Richard Greer, 1961 president, milked cows by hand on a dairy farm in Stonewall, moving up to milking larger numbers with a machine. He said he not only learned about animals but also how to take care of people. He now runs 240 nursing homes in 29 states.

Gary Cathey, 1973 president, said it was a blessing to be state 4-H president. “God sent me a lot of angels to make that miracle come real for me,” he said. “If you still have your angel, give them a call.”

Eric Eskew, director of the Louisiana 4-H Foundation, showed a video of the proposed multi-purpose building at the Grant Walker 4-H Educational Center near Pollock. He explained that campers have no facility in which to assemble as a whole and be sheltered from inclement weather.

For more information about helping 4-H or the multi-purpose building project at Grant Walker, visit www.la4hfoundation.org.

“Be our stakeholders. Be our champions,” Eskew said. “Go out and spread the word.”

Mary Ann Van Osdell
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