Each year thousands of adults provide time, expertise and resources to reach youth in all communities of the state, enabling them to develop the essential life skills needed to become the leaders of tomorrow. This year several volunteers and retired staff were honored at the state, regional and national level for their service to Louisiana 4-H and communities across the state.
Serving the Louisiana 4-H program over two decades, Gloria Miller was honored by the National 4-H Council for her selfless service, adaptability and advocacy for the Louisiana 4-H program. “Gloria is such a generous, genuine person. She truly bleeds green and is an asset and a true advocate for St. Charles Parish and Louisiana 4-H," said Kali Zammit, a 4-H agent for St. Charles Parish.
Throughout her various volunteer roles, Gloria has affected thousands of youth by providing hands-on learning experiences, being a positive role model, bridging generation gaps and nurturing youth and adult partnerships. Gloria has delivered over 500 workshops and seminars during her tenure with 4-H. A constant in her community and parish, Gloria has dedicated her time to learning new delivery modes and adapting to changes in technology.
Jessica Parker works tirelessly to ensure her club is inclusive and accessible to all. Named the 2021 Volunteer of the Year for the Southeast Region, her program inspires youth to adopt a welcoming attitude and appreciate diverse groups of people.
Parker has an "open door" policy. "Any time we need her for anything, she is there,” said one 4-H’er in her parish. “We know we can go to her office if we need an adult to talk or give advice."
Parker is a champion for the Louisiana 4-H program. She helps spread awareness by showcasing programs and events on her school's website and various marketing channels. An active recruiter, Parker utilizes in-person events and virtual tools to connect with parents and members. For example, when the pandemic restricted her ability to have events and promote 4-H programs, Parker used Google Classroom as a 4-H Club meeting space and kept members updated with newsletters and club information.
As a decorated volunteer with over 30 years of service to Louisiana 4-H, Laura Strahan knows 4-H is “making the best better" for countless rural youth in Natchitoches. So, when the pandemic caused several programs across the state to suspend 4-H activities, Strahan worked with her school principal to allow 4-H meetings to continue and ensured policies and procedures were in place for her club to meet safely.
From fundraising over $60,000 for her 4-H program over the last three years to shipping children's clothes needed after a hurricane, no task is too large or small for Strahan. Through her service she has enabled countless youth to develop the essential life and leadership skills to be successful beyond 4-H.
The Ag in the Classroom award recognizes a Louisiana teacher for achievements and efforts in educating students on the importance of agriculture. Wiggins, who earned her Louisiana 4-H Master Volunteer credential in 2020, teaches and serves as the librarian at Northwestern State Elementary Lab School in Natchitoches, where she teaches English language arts, science and reading to her kindergarten through fifth grade students using literacy gardens.
Wiggins does not claim to be an expert gardener but enjoys growing her gardening skills with her students. “I’m learning along with the kids,” Wiggins said. “We’re applying a lot of our research into discovering new things, so I feel like a student along with them. We’re all growing together!”
Wiggins is a two-time winner of the Ag in the Classroom award, which she also received in 2011. Since then, Wiggins expanded her garden by adding an outdoor classroom, a greenhouse for aquaponics and a garden for each grade.
The National 4-H Hall of Fame was established to recognize 4-H volunteers, financial supporters, staff and pioneers who made significant impacts within the 4-H movement at the local, state and national levels.
Denver Loupe, former LSU AgCenter vice chancellor and extension director, spent his life supporting 4-H personally and professionally. He was officially inducted into the National 4-H Hall of Fame during a public ceremony in Washington, D.C., in October 2021. Under his leadership, Louisiana 4-H worked closely with public school boards to incorporate 4-H into schools as a cocurricular opportunity, a partnership that remains strong today.
He also helped establish the Louisiana 4-H Foundation and secured funding for at least two 4-H agents in each Louisiana parish. In addition, he served as a trustee of the National 4-H Council and the Louisiana 4-H Foundation.
“Because of his leadership, not just with the 4-H program but with extension as a whole, the Louisiana 4-H program was able to have a strong foundation for continued support and outreach throughout the state,” said Toby Lepley, associate vice president and 4-H program leader.
2021 Louisiana 4-H Hall of Fame Inductees:
2020 Louisiana 4-H Hall of Fame Inductees (Publicly Inducted in 2021)