A Winnsboro man was recognized earlier this month as one of the country’s outstanding 4-H volunteers.
Joe Walters of Winnsboro was one of two recipients of the 2005 National 4-H Salute to Excellence Volunteer Recognition Awards. The awards were presented during the opening ceremony at the 75th National 4-H Conference April 2 in Washington, D.C.
Walters received the Lifetime Volunteer Award, given to an individual who has spent 10 or more years volunteering for 4-H. Though thankful for the award, he said the award is not the reason he works with 4-H youth.
"When I reflect on all these years of youth work, I can say with all truthfulness that it is not the acclaim of others, it is the appreciation from a former 4-Her whose life has taken a positive turn because of some of my efforts," Walters said.
"He’s the type of volunteer we like," said Terril Faul, head of 4-H Youth Development for the LSU AgCenter. "He’s willing to help any club and volunteer in any program."
4-H is the youth education and outreach program of the nation’s land-grant universities. It is designed to help youth learn and develop skills that will benefit them throughout their lives. Volunteer leaders are a crucial part of the 4-H program, which reach tens of thousands of youngsters across Louisiana each year.
Faul said Walters helps with several programs ranging from local activities to the annual 4-H University in Baton Rouge in the summer. He also is active in the youth development program at the regional and national levels.
"He loves 4-H and seeing smiles on 4-Her faces," Faul said.
Louisiana 4-H leaders estimate Walters has touched the lives of tens of thousands of youth during his 33 years as a volunteer leader. He helped pioneer the 4-H Shooting Sports program and worked with others to found the 4-H Wild Woods Wanderings environmental education program for Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi. He’s now working with other volunteer leaders in Louisiana to pilot the 4-H All-Terrain Vehicle Safety Program.
Each year, state 4-H programs are invited to nominate two outstanding individual volunteers for the National 4-H Salute to Excellence Volunteer Awards Recognition Program, which is designed to recognize the importance of volunteers in the youth development program. The national winners are picked from those nominations.
The awards are made possible through the National 4-H Salute to Excellence Volunteer Recognition Fund and Monsanto Company, the program’s national presenting sponsor.